NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 17 – The National Assembly has now received a petition from a Bungoma resident to disband the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on grounds of incompetence and lack of integrity.
The petitioner, Barsa Nyukuri, wants MPs to recommend to President Uhuru Kenyatta to form a tribunal to investigate the nine IEBC commissioners who are facing pressure from the Opposition to step down over claims of bias.
National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi has now directed the House Justice and Legal Affairs Committee led by Samuel Chepkonga to peruse the petition and table a report within 14 days.
“I am also mindful of other crucial engagements outside of Parliament touching on electoral reforms and inevitably the question of the office of the chairperson and member of the IEBC. I therefore urge the committee to consult widely before tabling its report in the House,” the Speaker directed.
Muturi says the committee should establish whether the petition meets the constitutional requirement to send the IEBC Commissioners home.
He added: “I am aware that the Departmental Committee of Justice and Legal Affairs is currently jointly working the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee on matters related to the IEBC.”
In 2014 the IEBC Commissioners survived another petition after the Legal Affairs Committee dismissed a petition by activist Wafula Buke seeking to disband the electoral body.
The committee will guide the House by tabling the report findings on whether the petition satisfies the grounds for removal of the IEBC officers as provided in Chapter 251, Article 1 and 2 of the Constitution.
The committee has 14 days within which to submit a report to the House as required under paragraph (4) of the Standing Order 230. Once the committee tables its report, the House will have 10 days to decide whether or not the petition contains a valid ground for removal of the members.
This comes at a time when the Opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) and the government are engaged in a process of resolving the IEBC deadlock.
The two teams have reached a consensus on all the substantive issues on IEBC, but are still ironing out issues touching on the structure of the talks, and how the dialogue will be submitted to parliament for ratification.
CORD has accused IEBC Commissioners of corruption, incompetence and bias insisting the commission should not be allowed to oversee the 2017 General Election.
But Jubilee Coalition led by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his Deputy William Ruto have reiterated that the removal of the commissioners without following the right procedure was similar to overthrowing the Constitution.
The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and CIOC are currently receiving views from the governance, justice and legal sector player on the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill which proposes CORD and Jubilee Coalitions to nominate four people to the IEBC Selection Panel.
The Bill sponsored by Chairman Samuel Chepkonga Ainabkoi further proposes to have the Public Service Commission to select three independent nominees to form a seven-man IEBC selection panel that will hire the electoral agency commissioners.
The two House committees comprising 31 members each have released an 11-day schedule indicating they will kick off their public hearing on the two legislations from July 4 in Lamu and hold their final sitting in Nairobi on July 15.
According to the schedule, the House teams will visit Lamu, Tana River, Kilifi, Kwale, Mombasa, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Turkana, West Pokot, Trans Nzoia, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Uasin-Gishu, Baringo, Nakuru, Kericho, Nandi, Bomet, Narok, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay, Migori, Kisii, and Nyamira counties between July 4 and July 8.
The second segment of hearings will be held in Taita-Taveta, Makueni, Machakos, Kajiado, Kitui, Embu, Tharaka-Nithi, Meru, Samburu, Laikipia, Kiambu, Murang’a, Kirinyaga, Nyeri, Nyandarua, Vihiga, Kakamega, Bungoma, Busia and Nairobi Counties between July 11 and July 15.
The House teams have been divided into 10 groups to visit all the 47 counties to get voters’ views on what should be done to the embattled IEBC.