NYERI, Kenya, Jul 14 – Senators want the membership of the selection panel to oversee the filing of vacant positions in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) limited to seven members as opposed to 11 proposed by the National Assembly.
The Amendments proposed to the IEBC Act are contained in Tuesday afternoon’s Sitting Order Paper where, Majority Leader Samuel Poghisio says selection panel should consist of four representatives (two men and two women) nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission; one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya; and two persons nominated by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.
Currently the Bill which was drafted by the National Assembly Committee on Delegated Legislation proposes the panel be comprised of 4 PSC representatives, while LSK, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, Public Service Commission, National Gender and Equality Commission, the Attorney General and Inter-religious council of Kenya are to each nominate a representative.
If the Senate has its way then the EACC, KNCHR, Public Service Commission and NGEC and the Attorney General will not have a representation in the panel.
At the moment, Paragraph 1(2) of the First Schedule of the IEBC Act, as revised in 2016, states that the agency’s selection Panel should consist of nine members – four nominated by Parliamentary Service Commission and five by religious groups.
Poghisio in his amendment also introduces a new clause to provide that only a Kenyan citizen who meets the requirements of leadership and integrity set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution and holds a degree from a university recognised in Kenya shall be eligible to apply to serve in the Panel.
It is expected that the panel which is representative of a cross section of the Kenyan society and its values and that it will ably discharge its core mandate of shortlisting suitable persons for appointment as Commissioner by the President.
Former JLAC Chairman William Cheptumo (Baringo North) came up with the Bill in a bid to address a legal loophole that has left the poll agency stirring at a constitutional crisis after questions arose on whether the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and the two remaining commissioners can constitute a quorum to take bidding decision for the Commission.
The law requires the President to publish any vacancy in the Kenya Gazette within seven days, and appoint a selection panel within 14 days, all IEBC commissioners who resigned in the 2017 polls fallout are yet to be replaced.
Among the commissioners, Dr Roselyn Akombe resigned on October 18, 2017 just days before the repeat presidential poll on October 26 the same year.
Three more Commissioners led by Vice-chairperson Connie Maina, Margaret Mwachaya and Paul Kurgat also resigned, causing a quorum hitch that the electoral body has had to live with to date.