Political parties to have say on IEBC selection panel

The selection panel for the appointment of commissioners of IEBC. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Political parties will play role in the formation of the selection panel for the recruitment of chairperson and commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The amendment of the IEBC Act will see the Political Parties Liason Committee (PPLC)- an umbrella body of all political parties- get one slot in the selection panel.

The IEBC (Amendment), Bill 2022 which was signed into law by President William Ruto on Monday, reduces the slots of the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) from four to two out of the seven members of the panel.

The PPLC, Public Service Commission (PSC), and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) will each nominate one member to the Panel.

The Parliamentary Service Commission and the Inter-religious Council of Kenya will each have two members, a man and a woman.

"This is a huge achievement for PPLC and for our politics. Political parties are critical players in the electoral system and having the chance to choose those who will select IEBC commissioners is democracy moving in the right direction," says PPLC Vice Chairperson Chris Kilonzo.

With the retirement notice of former IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati and Commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu, and the resignation of former Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera, former Commissioners Justus Nyangaya and Francis Wanderi, Head of Public Service Felix Koskey is expected to invite the different organs to submit their nominees to the selection panel.

Thereafter the president will appoint the nominees to the selection panel through a Gazette notice.

Even though the process of setting up the selection panel has commenced President Ruto failed to work as per the timelines of the law and establish a panel despite declaring three posts of commissioners who proceeded on retirement vacant.

According to the IEBC Act, the President "shall" appoint a selection panel at least six months before the lapse of the term of the chairperson or member of the Commission or within fourteen days of the declaration of a vacancy in the same offices.

The process to fully constitute IEBC may be delayed by the Justice Aggrey Muchelule-led tribunal investigating Commissioner Irene Masit's suitability to hold office.

The tribunal adjourned its sittings on Tuesday after two days of sessions where Chebukati and Guliye and Molu appeared. The tribunal will resume on February 9.

Commissioner Masit is expected to make her submissions before the tribunal retreats to write a report and make recommendations on whether she should continue to hold office or not

According to the IEBC Act, a person is qualified for appointment as a member of the section panel if he/she is a Kenyan, meets the requirements of leadership and Integrity set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution and holds a degree from a university recognized in Kenya.

"The selection panel shall within seven days of its appointment invite applications from qualified persons and publish the names of all applicants and their qualifications in the Gazette, two newspapers of national circulation and the website of Parliamentary Service Commission," states the Act.

After conducting the interviews, the selection panel shall select two people qualified to be appointed as Chairperson and nine people qualified to be appointed as members of the commission and shall forward the names to the President for the nomination of one person to be appointed as Chairperson and six people for appointment as members.

In shortlisting, nominating or appointing the Chairperson and members of the commission, the selection panel, Parliament and the President shall ensure that not more than two-thirds of the members are of the same gender and shall ensure regional balance.

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