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Religious leaders want IEBC Chairman and Vice to have similar qualifications

The leaders were presenting views before a National Assembly committee. Photo/NJOKI KIHIU.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 11-Inter-Religious Council of Kenya is proposing that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice Chairman should have the same qualifications as the Chairman so that they can act in the same capacity.

In a raft of proposals presented before the National Assembly Constitutional Oversight and Implementation Committee, the Council’s chairman Joseph Mutie and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM) Chairman Yusuf Nzibo further supported the reduction of Commissioners from Seven to 5.

“The religious sector in Kenya welcomes the opportunity to participate in the selection panels and is prepared to support the process to ensure that the process is professional, and the outcome is a trusted and credible IEBC. We also suggest that the chair and vice chair should possess similar credentials in case of a temporary vacancy in the position, especially during elections,” said Nzibo.

The council further wants amendments to be done to stagger elections for the different positions with elections of Senators, Governors and Members of County Assembly held on a different date from those of Members of the National Assembly, President and Deputy President.

The two religious leaders also proposed that all election petitions should be terminated at the Court of Appeal within six months from the date of election except the presidential petition.

Apart from the changes that the council proposes to be made at the IEBC, it also wants the government to establish a training institute for the electoral commission staff.

Members of the committee led by their chair Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni were opposed to some of the proposals made saying they are unachievable

“You know we can suggest so many changes to be made and I know we are all doing this in good faith, but we should also know that there are so some amendments that can only be done after we change the constitution,” Kioni said.

His sentiments were supported by Budalangi MP Raphael Wanjala who opposed the establishment of the IEBC institute.

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“I do not understand why we should even discuss about the institute because we already have The School of Government where there is enough space and they can be trained from there instead of adding more expenses and at the same time we are trying to find the most possible ways to conduct cheap elections,” said Wanjala.

The officials were giving their views on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill which is before the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee.

The Bill seeks to reduce the number of IEBC Commissioners from seven to five, including the Chairperson.

It further seeks to provide for the selection panel existing in law to carry out the recruitment of the Chairperson and Commissioner whenever a vacancy arises in the Commission.

On 4 June, the Centre for Multiparty Democracy (CMD) proposed that the President should not be the appointing authority of the Chairperson of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC).


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