NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – The Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission adjourned its sitting Monday morning until 3pm, after the IEBC Commissioners led by their chairman Issack Hassan questioned the committee’s mandate, terming it unconstitutional.
Hassan argued that the Select Committee cannot determine their removal, as mandated (by the resolution passed by the Senate and National Assembly) since this violates Article 251 of the Constitution which stipulates the procedure for the removal of a commissioner of an independent commission.
“The committee has now become a petitioner by collecting the allegations from different parties and putting them into a summary and putting it in a letter and now we are being told by the same committee to come back and respond to those allegations. Article 251 of the Constitution vests the National Assembly with an important a role in the constitutional process of removing a commissioners of the IEBC. That role is to hear petitions that have been brought for the removal of the commissioners by the public,” he told the committee sitting.
The electoral agency chief accused the committee of fishing for allegations that would assist it in illegally removing him and his fellow commissioners from office, saying the process is unlawful.
“The commission notes that the National Assembly was not in receipt of a petition calling for the removal of any commissioner. In fact those who came before you, were talking about the removal and how to set up the new commission, no one has come with allegations against the commission even those tasked with the power to investigate, told you the same thing,” Hassan stated.
He said the only constitutional way of removing commissioners from office is through a petition after members of the public raise allegations of wrongdoings among the commissioners.
Committee Co-Chairmen Siaya Senator James Orengo and Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi adjourned the sitting to allow them to make a comprehensive ruling on the matter.
“If we rule in the affirmative, then it means we will completely down our tools, because if you read our mandate number four, it says that on the basis on findings on recommendations a, b and c; prepare a Bill or draft Bills,” Orengo stated.
Murungi added: “for them it is only a petition which is available to the public for the removal of a commissioner from office… this is a legal issue that needs to be addressed.”
The committee has until August 12 to present its report and recommendation to both Houses.