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MPs agree on how to hire IEBC bosses

By Wilfred Ayaga | Published Wed, June 1st 2016 at 00:00, Updated May 31st 2016 at 20:05 GMT +3

Electoral reforms have gathered pace in Parliament, with a National Assembly committee having agreed on key areas.

Among the reforms agreed on by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee is the mode of selection of people to sit in the panel that will hire electoral commissioners.

Under the agreement, CORD and the ruling Jubilee coalition will nominate two people each to sit in the recruitment panel, while the Public service Commission (PSC) will recruit three others through a competitive process. The names will then be sent to Parliament for approval, before being appointed by the President.

Although CORD wanted the three people recruited through Parliament, the coalition lost this bid after Jubilee members in the committee ganged up to defeat the push that was fronted by Ugenya MP David Ochieng and his Ruaraka counterpart TJ Kajwang.

"The majority party or coalition of parties in Parliament shall nominate one man and one woman and the minority party or coalition of parties in parliament shall nominate one man and one woman. The PSC shall recruit through a competitive process three persons who shall not be members of a political party," the committee said in a statement.

The agreement is part of reforms that will also see the period of hearing of presidential poll disputes increased from 14 to 30 days.

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New team

Although the reforms do not specifically address key demands by the Opposition, including the exit of the current commissioners, it sets the stage for the recruitment of a new team should the Opposition succeed in its push to have the commissioners shown the door.

The Opposition wanted the commissioners out on grounds that they could not be trusted to oversee a credible election in August 2017.

"To facilitate engagement, dialogue and participation, the departmental Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs intends to conduct hearings in all counties to facilitate all interested parties to present their views on the proposed electoral reforms," the committee said.

Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga said they were ready to receive views from all interested parties on the proposals that the committee was pushing on electoral reforms.

"We will visit all the counties in a very bipartisan approach since we want to handle this matter as Kenyans," he said.

The initiative is part of a two-pronged approach by MPs to unlock the stalemate, which has also seen the formation of a parliamentary caucus to drive the reforms.

"We can now see that the Justice committee is moving with speed to resolve the stalemate. Going round the country will give Kenyans an opportunity to give their views on IEBC," said Mr Ochieng, the caucus's co-convenor.