Talks team to start tackling ‘critical and urgent’ IEBC issues

A section of the bipartisan talks committee

A section of the bipartisan talks committee addresses journalists at Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi on May 10. 

Photo credit: File

The six-member sub-committee of the bipartisan talks team tasked with handling issues surrounding the reconstitution of the electoral commission is set to submit its report today.

The report will be the first item for the larger committee formed by President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance and Azimio la Umoja One Kenya led by Mr Raila Odinga to conclusively discuss since its formation.

The team, co-chaired by Rarieda MP Otiende Amolo (Azimio) and his Tharaka counterpart George Murugara (Kenya Kwanza) will hold a meeting today to discuss the sub-committee’s report.

The team is eager to conclude the matter this week if there is consensus on the committee’s proposals.

The sub-committee was tasked with gathering and collating the views of stakeholders and coming up with a way forward on the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The two key issues are the selection panel and the methodology and principles for the recruitment of new commissioners.

Nairobi Senator Edwin Sifuna, Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) and Kitui Senator Enoch Wambua represent Azimio in the sub-committee, while Bomet Senator Hillary Sigei, Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale and Kibwezi West MP Mwengi Mutuse represent Kenya Kwanza.

Both Kenya Kwanza and Azimio have included the IEBC in their list of issues they want the bipartisan committee to address.

Mr Amolo told the Nation that the sub-committee was expected to complete its work by yesterday for presentation to the full team today. “We expect them to come up with a comprehensive report that covers all the issues,” Mr Amolo said.

The Rarieda MP said the time the committee will take to complete the IEBC agenda will depend on the number of issues raised by the sub-committee.

“It would be absurd to say when we will conclude the matter because we still don’t know the contents of the sub-committee’s report and whether they will have a consensus or not,” Mr Amolo said.

He added that apart from Azimio’s call for the IEBC to be reconstituted through the Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group route, the committee will also incorporate other proposals from other stakeholders and cover a number of issues including the mandate of the selection panel.

At its meeting on Wednesday, the committee unanimously agreed that the IEBC issue was critical and urgent and should therefore be resolved as soon as possible to pave the way for the recruitment of new commissioners.

IEBC is currently only has a secretariat after former chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye’s terms ended on January 17. Former vice-chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Justus Nyang’aya and Francis Wanderi resigned after President William Ruto formed a tribunal to investigate their conduct during the August 2022 polls. Ms Irene Masit was removed on the recommendation of the tribunal.

Mr Murugara said although the law is on their side as Kenya Kwanza on the recruitment of IEBC commissioners, they are ready to listen to the suggestions of their Azimio counterparts.

“We are ready to amend the law to accommodate their views if we think it is fair, but for now let’s wait for the sub-committee’s report so that we don’t look like we are pre-empting its contents,” he said.

The committee is yet to receive a response from the two Speakers on the secondment of staff and other assistance. Mr Amollo said they have only received support from the Electoral Law Governance Institute for Africa, which has paid for the venue at Bomas of Kenya where the committee has been holding its meetings.