By Wahome Thuku
With General Election nearing, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is under pressure to make regulations that will only clear candidates who pass integrity test.
International Centre for Policy and Conflict (ICPC), a constitutional rights watchdog, has petitioned IEBC to prepare regulations that will require candidates to reveal their character.
The organisation wants the commission to steer the country away from debates on personalities by setting an integrity criterion for nominating candidates.
"Such criteria published by IEBC would shift focus from individuals. The country would have a checklist to assess those who qualify for leadership positions," said the ICPC executive director Ndung’u Wainaina.
IEBC has powers under Section 109 of the new Elections Act to make regulations governing the conduct of the elections. However, that power can only be exercised after a draft of regulations has been approved by Parliament, which may be a stumbling block to IEBC.
In their petition, ICPC asked the commission to ensure all candidates in counties and national level are compelled to disclose on oath their financial and social information as well as any criminal history.
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 swear affidavits providing information on any previous and pending court cases, 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.
ICPC wants an equivalent in Kenya. They are demanding that candidates be required to produce tax clearance certificates from Kenya Revenue Authority and other public financial institutions and obtain clearance from the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission.
"This information is pertinent in helping voters to make informed decisions on candidates," Wainaina said.