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MPs split over plan to dissolve interim commissions

BUSINESS
By | August 28th 2010

By Beauttah Omanga

Leaders are divided on whether the Interim Independent Electoral Commission should transform into a permanent electoral and boundaries commission or it be disbanded as per the new Constitution.

MPs Langat Magerer and former MP Paul Muite said the law must be followed in having all interim commissions dissolved at the expiry of their terms and new ones established.

Muite said just like the Samuel Kivuitu-led Electoral Commission of Kenya, the interim team should pave way for a new body as required by the law.

"They should be vetted alongside others. Remember Kivuitu and company conducted the 2005 referendum very efficiently. See the mess they landed us in two years latter," he said.

But legislators William Cheptumo, Joshua Kuttuny, Wilfred Ombui, Danson Mungatana and Julius Kones heaped praise on the Issack Hassan-led commission, saying it had the confidence of majority Kenyans and it deserved confirmation for continuity.

Magerer, who is the Energy Assistant minister, said all commissions including IIEC should be disbanded as per the law and those who will be interested in their positions reapply for consideration.

"Since they have done a good job they will be favoured but we should not start by breaking the law by automatically confirming them," said Magerer.

Hassan last week confirmed their interim tenure ends in December and not in May 2011 as earlier indicated.

"Even though our letters of appointment signed by the Head of Civil Service indicates we should be in office until May 2011, the new Constitution states that we have to leave office three months after promulgation of the new

Constitution. Being law abiding, we have no option but to prepare to leave," he said.

He, however, said the commission would leave a lot of pending projects.

"We have very elaborate election plans which would have made the country a shining example but because of time, we might have to leave them mid way unless Parliament decides otherwise," he said.

Among the reforms in the pipeline, Hassan said, is to introduce electronic voting.

He told The Standard on Sunday that with time, the commission would urge Parliament to make it mandatory that all registered voters identify themselves with parties of their choice and have membership proof to be indicated on the voters’ card.

"If that happens, party hopping will end. In a way we will see the reduction of parties and Kenyans will find themselves focusing on the manifestos of few parties as compared to now where defections are the order of the day," said lawyer Betty Nyabuto.

"They have been tested and found to be capable of the challenges and they deserve a confirmation as the country’s electoral body," said Cheptumo.

Ombui concurred, saying Kenyans have faith in the Hassan-led team.

Kuttuny, however, said even though the law calls for a merger with the boundaries commission, "the boundaries team have failed to deliver and all the commissioners there should not form part of the new commission".

But Ombui†and Mungatana maintained that for continuity, a few members of the Andrew Ligale-led boundaries commission should be nominated and confirmed through Parliament to join the Hassan team.

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