Team in bitter split over IEBC hiring panel
By Alphonce Shiundu
| May 26th 2016
MPs were yesterday sharply split over the role of politicians in the proposed team that will hire new electoral commissioners.
While some said it would be better if politicians left the role of picking the selection panel to the Public Service Commission (PSC), others insisted elections were a political process and therefore parties, big and small, had to be involved.
At a meeting in Parliament buildings, members of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee failed to agree after hours of back-and-forth debates. They had to postpone the meeting to next Tuesday to build consensus and find a way to unlock the deadlock.
The stalemate came as committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga said his team was ready to prosecute any petition to kick out the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses.
At yesterday's meeting, MPs Moses Cheboi (Kuresoi North), William Cheptumo (Baringo North) and John Njoroge (Kasarani) opposed giving political parties four slots to pick members of the selection panel that will hire the IEBC commissioners.
"If you bring in party issues, we will not agree. Let us leave this thing to the PSC," Mr Cheboi said.
The three said it would be wrong for political parties to expect that simply because they appointed people to the selection panel.
"The members of IEBC should not be seen to have influence from the political parties. That is likely to cause chaos. We want members of the selection panel to be independent, or else politics will spill into the IEBC and that will cause chaos in the elections, because we will end up with disagreements within the commission," Mr Cheptumo said.
But this view was opposed by MPs Johanna Ng'eno (Emurrua Dikirr), Waihenya Ndirangu (Roy Sambu) and David Ochieng' (Ugenya). This group said elections were a political process and politicians had to be involved, even if not directly, in the decision-making.
They believe the majority and minority parties should pick two representatives each, then PSC can pick the remaining three. They said that in the event of a vote, those picked by PSC would have some independence and the numbers to tilt the vote and neutralise political influence.
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