, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 6 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Thursday night accepted six proposed amendments to election laws even as it vehemently opposed changes which seek to remove the requirement that the Commission Chairperson have a legal background.
While appearing before a Joint Parliamentary Committee considering public views on the proposed changes, IEBC led by Chairperson Wafula Chebukati argued that the head of the electoral agency needed to be a person equivalent to a judge of the Supreme Court as currently provided for in law given the complex legal procedures required to manage an election.
Clause 4 of the Election Law (Amendment) Bill proposes that any person holding a degree “in public administration, public finance, governance, electoral management, social science, or law” from a recognized university is eligible for the position of IEBC Chairman.
IEBC also partly opposed the proposal on the quorum of the Commission Plenary asking instead that the quorum is retained at the current five Commissioners.
“This proposal, suggests that the minority in the Commission (three members) can pass a resolution binding on the seven members,” IEBC submitted before the committee co-led by Baringo North MP William Cheptumo and Isiolo Senator Fatuma Dullo.
“It is our view that Commission decisions should be supported by a Majority of the Members. ie. four,” Chebukati, Vice Chairperson Consolata Nkatha, Commissioners Roselyn Akombe, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu suggested.
IEBC, however, agreed to a proposal to have another member of the Commission to assume the position of Chairperson in the absence of Chebukati, asking the joint committee to replace the word “person” in the amendments with “member” so that it is clear that it is only the Commissioners who can assume the position.
The Commission also accepted proposed changes the electronic transmission of results asking the committee to provide for physical delivery of results declarations forms after the electronic transmission of the same.
According to the Commission, the declaration of an election winner should be made upon the verification of physically delivered results.
For the avoidance of doubt, the Commission asked the committee to delete the words “manual transmission” in favour of the term “physically delivered.”
On the procedure for the nullification of presidential election results based on the non-compliance to election regulations, the commission suggested that the Supreme Court should consider if such non-compliance is deliberately intended to distort the outcome of an election.
“Not all infractions to the regulations should result in nullification of the elections. The burden should be placed on a person challenging an election to prove that there was a breach of the law and that that breach affected the results,” IEBC remarked with regards to proposed amendments to the Elections Offences Act.
The Chubukati-led team also accepted a new clause in the Elections Offences Act which seeks to place criminal liability upon election officials who willfully alter, falsify or submit incomplete results declaration forms.
Upon conviction, the clause recommends imprisonment of such officials for a term not exceeding five years.
The Commission successfully made its presentations at the end of three-day public hearings which ended Thursday night, albeit the IEBC Chairperson’s lone appearance which compelled the committee to adjourn, demanding that Chebukati appears with fellow Commissioners.
“It is important we hear the views of the other Commissioners because I know that the Commission is run as a collegiate and not as an individual. We’re dealing with the institution in this case,” committee co-chair Senator Dullo insisted with the backing of a majority of mebers of the committee including Nairobi Senator Johnson Sakaja and his Kiambu counterpart Kimani Wamatangi.