Political candidates must pass integrity test - ICPC

Business

By Wahome Thuku

With the general elections around the corner, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is now under pressure to make regulations that will only clear candidates who pass the integrity test.

The International Center for Policy and Conflict (ICPC), a constitutional rights watchdog has petitioned the IEBC to prepare regulations that require candidates to disclose on oath, their financial and social information as well as any criminal history.

The organisation wants the commission to steer the country away from debates on personalities by setting an integrity criterion for nominating the candidates.

"Such a criteria published by the IEBC would shift focus from individuals and the country would have a check list to assess those who qualify for leadership positions," said the ICPC executive director Ndung’u Wainaina.

The IEBC is empowered under Section 109 of the new Elections Act to make regulations governing the conduct of the elections. The regulations must give effect to the constitution and the Act itself. However that power can only be exercised after a draft of the regulations has been approved by Parliament.

Wainaina asked the commission to borrow from India, Canada, UK and other countries, which have an elaborate system of vetting candidates on integrity, which is also a requirement under the Kenyan constitution.

India’s electoral regulations require candidates at all levels to swear affidavits providing information on any previous and pending court cases against them, their outcome, all details of their assets, those of their spouses and dependants, liabilities due to public financial institutions and the government as well all their educational background and qualifications.

Other candidates are also allowed to swear similar affidavits releasing information that may have been concealed by their opponents. All the information in the affidavits is either published in the media or made freely available to the public by the Electoral Commission of India.

The ICPC now wants the equivalent in Kenya. They are demanding that candidates be required to produce tax clearance certificates from the Kenya Revenue Authority and other public financial institutions and obtain clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.

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