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AG raises doubts over 2017 election date as IEBC row persists

Muigai told the select committee that altering the election date, which would extend Parliament and President's term, does not guarantee a referendum/FILE

Muigai told the select committee that altering the election date, which would extend Parliament and President’s term, does not guarantee a referendum/FILE

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 21 – Attorney General Githu Muigai has cautioned the joint parliamentary committee probing allegations against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that Parliament will have to set a fresh election date in order to allow for the proper reconstitution of the poll agency.

In his presentation before joint House team, the AG said the postponement of the poll date from the current August 8, 2017 will allow adequate preparations to take place in line with the Justice (Rtd) Johann Kriegler Report on the conduct of the 2007 General Election.

“If a petition were received by this House today it would take no less than one month to dispose of a petition in nine parts. In our view, it would take no less than three months for a tribunal to go through the allegations touching on nine or so Commissioners and I would imagine it would take the President another two weeks to consider and receive advice on the report,” Githu said.

“We recommend that this Committee should be aware of the sort of time and resources involved in this regard. We have 383 days to the General Election, and so this issue of the time that a new commission needs to be in place is a very important one and I would say with tremendous respect Mr Chairman, that your Committee must think about it very seriously.”

“I must say this without recommending it, and I am not recommending it, I am suggesting that you may need to think very carefully whether you want to alter the date of the next General Election.”

The Kriegler report which was conducted following the 2007/2008 Post Election Violence recommended that an electoral commission should be in place ideally 24 months before the staging of a general election.

Muigai told the select committee that altering the election date, which would extend Parliament and President’s term, does not guarantee a referendum.

He also advised that the members of the secretariat should be vetted afresh once the new commissioners have been installed.

He shot down the proposal to have the secretariat staff replaced or transferred to other government agencies saying their exit would leave the Commission depleted of years of experience and institutional memory.

The AG said as the coordinating and oversight office in the governance, justice and legislative sector he has not received any complaints or allegations of misconduct against the commissioners that will rule them unfit to continue holding public office.

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“I am not myself aware of any specific allegations against specific members of the Commission that touches on their credibility, impartiality, integrity and independence and therefore I make no finding as to whether or not, you will be confronted with another allegation or not,” he stressed.

Muigai further stated that any petition presented must contain allegations specific to each member ruling out the possibility of the House processing a collective petition against the Chairman and the eight commissioners.

“A petition must demonstrate that each and every member is individually culpable of misconduct that is known to the Constitution, that makes that particular member ineligible of continuing to perform his duties,” the AG said.

The joint parliamentary committee was set up after weeks of street demonstrations, led by opposition, to look into concerns raised about the credibility of the electoral agency to manage the awaited elections.

The Committee is set to table a report in August 12.


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