A new bill by the ruling coalition seeking to alter the process of recruiting electoral commissioners has kicked up a fresh political clash pitting President William Ruto and Azimio leader Raila Odinga.
Lawmakers allied to Mr Odinga yesterday vowed to shoot down the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (Amendment) Bill, 2022 sponsored by National Assembly Majority Leader Kimani Ichung’wa (Kikuyu).
Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition MPs while questioning the timing of the proposed changes described the bill – that seeks to change the composition of IEBC selection panel – as an attempt by Dr Ruto to “capture” the electoral commission ahead of the 2027 General Election.
But Kenya Kwanza Alliance lawmakers insisted that they will fast-track the proposed amendments to cure the biases created by the current law in a bid to ensure an inclusive process in the pending recruitment of replacements for IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu – who are set to retire on January 17.
The ruling coalition lawmakers claimed that the current IEBC Act was bulldozed by former President Uhuru Kenyatta and Mr Odinga to lock out other political players in the recruitment of vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Irene Masit, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya in the run up to the August 9 polls.
The bill that awaits to be introduced on the floor of the House for the First Reading is seeking to reduce the current allocation of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), which nominates four out of the seven members of the panel.
The bill proposes that PSC nominates two members down from the current four while donating the other two slots to the Political Parties Liaison Committee and the Public Service Commission (PSC).
The Law Society of Kenya and the Inter-religious Council of Kenya will retain their one and two nominees’ slots, respectively, in the proposed amendments.
“The principal object of this bill is to amend the first schedule to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission No 9 of 2011 to change the composition of the selection panel that oversees the filling of vacant positions in the commission,” states the Bill.
“The selection panel shall consist of a man and a woman, nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission, one person nominated by the Public Service Commission, one person nominated by the Political Parties Liaison Committee, One person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya and two persons nominated by the Inter-religious Council of Kenya,” it proposes.
Mr Ichung’wa told the Saturday Nation that bringing on board of Political Parties Liaison Committee will ensure the inclusion of all political players in the recruitment of IEBC commissioners.
He said that the current Act has made the process an exclusive affair for only parliamentary parties with members in the PSC. This, he said, has locked out many political players in the hiring of commissioners.
National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohammed kicked up the storm over the proposed changes by terming them as “real state capture and 2027 elections”. Mr Mohammed told the Saturday Nation that the current Act was put in place after wide consultations that involved all players in the political field. He questioned why there was a rush to make the amendment when Mr Chebukati was about to exit the poll agency.