NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 15 – The Joint Select Committee on matters related to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has now given House Speakers Justin Muturi and Ekwee Ethuro until Monday to suspend a parallel probe by the Justice Legal Affairs Committee on the poll agency.
Committee Co-Chairs Siaya Senator James Orengo and Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi were responding to members queries on whether the process still enjoyed the support of the House Leadership after the two Speakers failed to attend the opening of a one-day retreat at the Safari Park Hotel.
“We should, by Monday morning have some answers to this question, so that many of us don’t feel like we are acting in vain,” Orengo stated.
“I will do everything possible and I will not be part of a system which negotiates in bad faith, I will be not be part of a system that does not deliver on the mandate of the process,” Kiraitu said even as he urged the members of the committee to forge unity and work across party lines to achieve their task.
CORD Senators Mutula Kilonzo Junior and Johnson Muthama had raised the issue of the absence of the leadership who were supposed to lay to rest the ensuing debate of who between them and JLAC has the constitutional mandate to determine the fate of IEBC Commissioners.
JLAC Chairman Samuel Chepkong’a came under attack from Jubilee Coalition Deputy House Leaders Naomi Shaban and Kipchumba Murkomen after appearing to belittle the process undertaken by Joint Select Committee.
“I know you are a very senior member of the CORD Coalition, Co-Chair, so I am asking you to please ask your Acting Secretary General who is a mother like me, that we cannot afford to take Kenyans back. I am also asking Chepkonga and his team to be fair to Kenyans and allow us to do what we ought to do, because Kenyans will be expecting results from this process,” Shaban cautioned.
“I would never want to enter the history books, that there was a committee that was just having a talk shop without a product and a resolve that is going to be long lasting,” said Murkomen who was representing Senate Majority Leader Kithure Kindiki.
CORD Co-Principal and Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetangula on his part urged the Joint Select Committee to ensure Kenyans will get a framework that will protect the sanctity of their vote.
“We cannot be a country, that sits on the brink at the advent and approach of every election. We cannot be a country, where every electoral year, our GDP dips by 50 percent. We cannot be a country, where every election year people pack their possessions and leave their places of work because they feel unsafe,” he said.
Wetangula said his colleagues in the House Leadership had supported the suspension of the JLAC probe into a petition against the IEBC Commissioners, because it had an extensive mandate backed by a bipartisan consensus, to probe allegations against IEBC Commissioners and recommend electoral reforms that would enhance the credibility of next year’s polls.
“One of the key and cardinal agreements was that any other process that were on-going or were intended to start in the process of reforming IEBC were to be stopped forthwith to give this committee an unfettered and unlimited opportunity within the timeframe that you have to deliver.”
“If the JLAC continues with what they are doing, then they will also be pushing people to be take extraordinary reactions, which are not necessary but which can easily be taken because everybody has options in life, but we don’t to exercise options that will render nugatory what you are doing here,” warned the CORD Co-principal.
However, the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee has repeatedly cited provisions of Article 251 of the Constitution on the grounds and procedure of removing IEBC Commissioners from office.
The 14-member Joint Parliamentary Select Committee has 30 days to receive and review complaints against the IEBC Commissioners and Secretariat, and recommend electoral reforms that would ensure a free, fair and transparent General Elections next year.