What you need to know:
- Kenya Kwanza was slated to make its presentation after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel with Azimio coming next.
- Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot was heard off record saying that his coalition had sought more time and that it will be making its presentation today (Tuesday).
Ongoing talks between government and Opposition leaders seeking to end a political impasse arising from last year’s disputed presidential election failed to take off on Monday after both sides kept off the venue.
Representatives of President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Opposition leader Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party kept off the negotiations, held under the auspices of the National Dialogue Committee, as the rival factions played a game of wait-and-see with each other.
The committee is co-chaired by Wiper Democratic Movement party leader Kalonzo Musyoka (Azimio) and Kikuyu MP and National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wah representing Kenya Kwanza.
According to the team’s schedule for yesterday, Kenya Kwanza was slated to make its presentation after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel with Azimio coming next.
However, when the time for Kenya Kwanza came, Kericho Senator Aaron Cheruiyot was heard off record saying that his coalition had sought more time and that it will be making its presentation today (Tuesday).
After learning of Kenya Kwanza’s move, Azimio sought a similar postponement. Ruling party United Democratic Alliance (UDA) Secretary-General Cleophas Malala, who was to appear before the committee on behalf of Kenya Kwanza, did not respond to our queries regarding the sudden change of heart. Suna MP Junet Mohammed, the Azimio SG, also did not respond.
But even as this unfolded, former Attorney-General Amos Wako has put up a strong case for a hybrid system in the constitution of the country’s electoral body as he pushed for a legislation to make it mandatory for the opening of servers immediately after the presidential election result is declared.
This, he said, will instill confidence among Kenyans on the credibility of the process and that the data gathered will help in the filing of election petitions.
Mr Wako, who is the former Busia Senator, dismissed calls by Azimio for an audit of the 2022 presidential election results “as the matter was settled by the Supreme Court of Kenya.”
Mr Wako made his case known yesterday while appearing before the National Dialogue Committee sitting at the Bomas of Kenya in Nairobi. He said that the current system of constituting the seven-member IEBC may not be the best as it is fraught with sycophancy.
He proposed that some IEBC commissioners be nominated by two or three major political parties and others recruited through the selection panel. This proposal heavily borrows from the Inter-parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) model of 1997.
While supporting an audit of the electoral process, he said: “If doubts over an election are not cleared, it could erode public confidence in future elections.”
According to Mr Wako, the two or three major parties can have a slot each with one slot reserved for the smaller parties under the Political Parties Liaison Committee.
This means that, if the political parties nominate four persons for appointment to the IEBC, then the balance of three other commissioners will be filled through a competitive process.
For this to happen, it will require an amendment to the IEBC Act.
“Don’t try to demonise the proposal that political parties be allowed to nominate persons of gravitas as IEBC commissioners,” Mr Wako said while making reference to the success story behind the 2002 General Election.
“This is the electoral commission that delivered a credible presidential election. The results were applauded and accepted by all locally and internationally where no election petition was filed challenging the election of the President,” he added.
At the time, IPPG agreed that the President nominates 11 members to the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), then headed by Mr Samuel Kivuitu and Mr Gabriel Mukele as his deputy, with the political parties nominating 10.
The ECK went on to deliver what would become the freest, fair, credible and transparent presidential elections in the history of the country to date, with the late Mwai Kibaki being crowned the country’s third President against his closest challenger Mr Uhuru Kenyatta, who would in 2013, succeed him.
However, ahead of the 2007 General Election, the IPPG resolutions, which would later be labelled “a gentleman’s agreement”, was trashed by President Kibaki’s close allies, paving the way for the unilateral appointment of ECK commissioners.
The outcome of the 2007 presidential election pitting the late Kibaki- the incumbent and ODM leader Mr Raila Odinga, his main challenger was disputed on account of high stakes interference and manipulation by the state.
What followed was post-election violence that led to the killing of over 1,000 Kenyans with many others huddled into internally displaced camps and destruction to property.
This was a watershed moment that birthed the Independent Review Commission (IREC) chaired by former South African retired Judge Johan Kriegler that proposed various reforms to the country’s electoral regime including the change of name from ECK to IEBC.
Mr Wako is also proposing the tightening of law to ensure that the IEBC chairman does not make decisions of his own without involving the other commissioners, which is in line with the judgment of the Supreme Court of Kenya in the 2022 presidential election petition.
“This should ensure that the IEBC chairman does not act on his own but on the decision of the commission,” the former Attorney-General said as he steered away from whether the current 47 counties should be increased or reduced saying; “it is a sensitive matter that should be separated and handled by a different body.”