NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – The Joint Parliamentary Committee on matters relating to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will hold public hearings on Monday, July 25 and Tuesday.
Those who would rather make written than oral submissions have until close of business on Friday, July 22 to forward them to the Clerks of the Senate or the National Assembly.
The committee has identified four thematic areas on which it will receive submissions including allegations against IEBC Commissioners, recommendations on legal mechanisms for the vacation from office of the current Commissioners and Secretariat, recommendations on legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen IEBC and fourth, recommendations to ensure the August 2017 General Election is free and fair.
“Recommendations on legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the IEBC should address the composition of the IEBC Commission and the Secretariat and the appointment, term of office, terms of service and removal from office of the Commissioners and the Secretariat,” a public announcement carried in local dailies on Tuesday reads.
Several other recommendations on the reform of IEBC have already been made in the public domain including by the Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi who last year advocated for a reduction in the number of its commissioners from nine to three.
“Kenya with 40 million people has nine commissioners (at IEBC), while a country like India with over one billion people has not more than five commissioners in its electoral body – we have actually created a problem,” Muturi said.
The Committee which was formed following the intervention of the church, once again – on Monday – called on the religious leaders to intervene in the resolution of another impasse this time between itself and another ‘joint’ committee: the Justice and Legal Affairs and Constitutional Implementation Oversight committees of the National Assembly who are considering a petition calling for the removal of the IEBC Commissioners; creating an overlap in mandate.
“I don’t think it would be outside your mandate to call them for a word of prayer and maybe also read them that verse you read to us during the shuttle diplomacy between the President and CORD leadership,” the Select Committee co-chair and Siaya Senator James Orengo appealed to the religious leaders who included National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) General Secretary Canon Peter Karanja and Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB).
A plea backed by Orengo’s co-chair from the government side of the political divide: Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi. “I am sure that (JLAC Chairman Samuel) Chepkonga is a Christian, and his bishop is here, I would like to send you to him; to pray with him because when we talk with him, we talk as lawyers and then he says, you know, I am exercising my constitutional mandate as the chairman of JLAC in dealing with a petition that I have received and the Standing Orders do not allow me to suspend a petition until it is concluded.”
The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on matters relating to the IEBC was established by the Senate and National Assembly on July 5 and 6 respectively to put an amicable, legal end to the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy led #MondayProtests aimed at forcing a change of guard at the IEBC.