Foreigner best for electoral commission job, says PM

Prime Minister Raila Odinga with UN Special Rapporteur on Wednesday at Treasury Building in Nairobi. PHOTO/WILLIAM OERI

The search for a new head of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission took a new dimension on Wednesday when Prime Minister Raila Odinga said Kenya would be better off with a foreigner heading the team.

Mr Odinga said a foreign chairman would break partisan interests that have led to the stalemate over the nomination of the candidate to lead the polls team.

The PM said Kenyans were likely to find fault with any local nominee as has happened with the proposal of Cecil Miller as chair.

Whoever is chosen to chair the electoral agency must be accepted by all Kenyans as a person of “high integrity, who will be impartial,” he stated.

“Because of the way Mr (Samuel) Kivuitu handled the 2007 elections, Kenyans want a chair who will be impartial. My suggestion would be that we even consider looking for a foreigner to head the commission,” Mr Odinga said.

He was speaking at the Nation Media Group studios during a recording of the On the Record talk show that will be aired on NTV on Thursday evening.

Mr Odinga’s sentiments come as the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) on the Constitution meets on Thursday morning to come up with the commission after Parliament rejected its initial list. MPs questioned the selection of some proposed members, including Mr Miller.

The PM said the thorough scrutiny of nominees for the IIEC stemmed from the dismal performance of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya in 2007.

Having suspicions

“Everyone believes that if the ECK had been selected in a non-partisan manner, it could have been independent. People are therefore having suspicions as they would not want to see a repeat of what happened in 2007,” Mr Odinga said.

MPs opposed to Mr Miller’s nomination argued that the lawyer had acted for Medical Services assistant minister Danson Mungatana in an election petition in 2008.

Mr Mungatana is the MP for Garsen and also a member of the PSC. The MPs also questioned Mr Suleiman Buko’s nomination as he had served as a deputy returning officer for Garsen constituency.

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