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New IEBC team to oversee voter registration

By Wilfred Ayaga | Published Thu, January 12th 2017 at 00:00, Updated January 11th 2017 at 21:49 GMT +3
Chairman Justice & Legal Affairs Committee Samuel Chepkonga (left) during the vetting of IEBC chair nominees on 10th January 2017. [PHOTO: WILBERFORCE OKWIRI/Standard]

MPs are working to ensure that the new electoral commissioners will be in office next week, ready to oversee voter registration.

National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga (Ainabkoi MP) said they would adopt the vetting report of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) nominees today ahead of tabling in the House next week.

"We hope that the new IEBC commissioners will be in place by next week to oversee registration of voters," Mr Chepkonga said.

The final three nominees were vetted yesterday. Voter registration begins on Monday.

The commission is hoping to register six million new voters to add to the 14 million registered before the 2013 polls.

Yesterday, the committee questioned nominees on their strength to withstand pressure from politicians.

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Paul Kurgat, the former ambassador to Russia, told the committee he had the stamina to withstand pressure for competing interests. He called for an end to political tensions in the run up to the August 8 polls.

"Let me assure you that I have the stamina. I drink tea and milk. I'm still strong... The most urgent thing is to bring the nation together as there are serious divisions across communities and the political divide. If we go to the polls without these parties coming together, we are headed for a bigger problem," the Moi University lecturer said.

Although he impressed with his diplomatic skills and knowledge of electoral issues, lawmakers reminded him that previous nominees for various positions had ended up disappointing Kenyans.

"We have a worry. We have very good men who come for interviews but they change midway, after landing the positions" said TJ Kajwang (Ruaraka MP).

"Consistency is better than hypocrisy. Why are people not consistent? Why do they change when they get positions?" Chepkonga asked.

"I will continue to pray that I do not change in the middle...," Kurgat responded.

Margaret Mwachanya, a Kiswahili scholar, said she would advocate for civic education and greater participation of women in the country's political affairs.

And Abdi Guliye, a lecturer at Egerton University, said he would not condone rigging as he wouldn't like to be called a thief.

"I want to assure you of my total commitment... in delivering a free and fair election," he added.