MP proposes rotational IEBC Chairperson in drastic law changes

February 13, 2019 5:23 pm
Kaluma maintains such a provision where political parties are given an opportunity to participate in the constitution of the commission is not a new phenomenon in developed countries that have mature democracies citing countries like the US and the United Kingdom/FILE

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 13 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) may soon have a rotational chairperson who will serve for one year which will be renewable once in the single term of six years that he/she will be in office if a legislative proposal by Homa Bay MP Peter Kaluma is endorsed by Parliament.

The proposal which is likely to spark heated debate once it gets on the floor of the House, is geared towards instilling efficiency and streamlining the electoral body that has been characterized by internal wrangles every election cycle according to Kaluma who spoke to Capital FM News on Wednesday.

“At the end of each year of service, unless a vacancy occurs in the office of chairperson earlier, the members of the commission shall elect the chairperson of the commission who shall serve for a period of one year, renewable once,” read part of the proposal on clause 5 (10).

Upon tabling it before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee that oversees the mandate of independent bodies tasked on governance and the legal sector, the committee will then facilitate public participation and shall take into account the views and recommendations of the public when the committee makes its report to the House within 20 calendar days of such committal.

Kaluma explained such a submission would promote fairness within the commission by ensuring that no single individual would have a monopoly of making influential decisions in critical matters involving election.

“My proposal is meant to create internal checks within the commission and external checks where political players will not able to have any influence on who will be the chairman,” he said.

The proposal is however a sharp contrast to what currently happens where the chairperson serves until the tail end of his tenure and will not be eligible for re-appointment.

University of Nairobi Political scientist Richard Bosire has argued that such a suggestion would be a perfect recipe for more chaos at the poll agency which has over the years been characterised by infighting among its commissioners.

“Replacing the chair of the commission after every year would definitely attract wrangles within the commission as the person holding it would be a very influential person. People with vested interest would take advantage of the situation and that in the process would hurt the commission,” he said in an interview with Capital FM News.

Bosire has said such a proposition that also gives two major political parties an upper hand in nominating three commissioners each and one from the Law Society of Kenya should be dismissed in totality when brought before Parliament.

According to Kaluma, three persons at least one of whom shall be a woman should be nominated by both the majority and minority parties or coalition of parties with one person being an Advocate of the High Court of the status of a senior counsel also elected by the members of the Law Society of Kenya.

“A player who in this case are political players should not decide who the referee should be. There would be external influence in the process and that in itself would harm the credibility of the commission by putting its independence at risk,” he said.

Kaluma maintains such a provision where political parties are given an opportunity to participate in the constitution of the commission is not a new phenomenon in developed countries that have mature democracies citing countries like the US and the United Kingdom.

“If political parties are given the chance to nominate members who would serve in the commission, in the event where by a presidential election petition is filed in court by an aggrieved party then the commissioners who would have been nominated by the said party would make it easy for the court by either admitting or rejecting if there were any cases of illegality in the election,” he said.

According to the first schedule of the IEBC Act, four persons, being two men and two women are nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission, one person is nominated by the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops.

Another person is nominated by the National Council of Churches of Kenya, one person nominated by the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the National Muslim Leaders Forum and the Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya, another by the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya and finally one person nominated by the Hindu Council of Kenya.

Kaluma’s proposals come at a time the electoral agency led by its Chairperson Wafula Chebukati have reiterated of their commitment to restore public confidence ahead of the 2022 elections which would be their last to oversee as their term in office would be ending.

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