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Panel calls off interviews to pick new IEBC boss

By Kamau Muthoni | November 26th 2016

It will take longer to fully constitute a new electoral commission after the panel recruiting news officers decided to re-advertise the position of chairperson despite five candidates having been shortlisted.

The selection panel of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has consequently postponed interviews for the position, which were to be conducted beginning Monday, indefinitely.

The panel, headed by Bernadette Musundi, claims it could not go on with interviews for the five already shortlisted, since it did not have enough information from the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission to determine their suitability for the position.

And in a thinly veiled disclosure that some of those shortlisted would not qualify for the position, the panel said information received in the form of memoranda from Kenyans on suitability of the candidates had returned a damning verdict on some of them.

At a press briefing yesterday, Musundi also alluded to lack of information from the taxman - Kenya Revenue Authority (KRA) - and IEBC itself on three candidates as another reason for not going ahead with the interviews.

Sources said Margaret Shava and another applicant whose identity was not disclosed were the only ones who were fully compliant but the panel decided to re-advertise to get more applicants.

Large number

“There is no law that stops us from proceeding with two but we cannot do that because we need a larger number and also because of the sensitivity of the matter,” said a source at the panel.

Shava told The Standard on Saturday that she had received communication from the panel informing that the interviews had been postponed but she should not re-apply. It later emerged that those who were compliant will be shortlisted again with three new applicants.

The new twist further complicates matters for IEBC because the commission is running short of time with several programmes like voter registration, which should be completed in March, way behind schedule.

With elections expected in August next year unless Kenyans change the date through a referendum, the commission will be running against time because the new commissioners could take office mid or late next month.

Lawyer David Mareka, former Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission member Margaret Wambui, Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board vice-chair Roseline Odhiambo Odede, former Kenya Commercial Bank Group Group Company Secretary and Chief Legal Advisor David Malakwen and Dr John Mukhata, a lecturer and researcher at the Community Law Centre, University of the Western Cape, South Africa, had been shortlisted for interview to succeed Isaack Hassan.

The panel is expected to re-advertise for the chairperson’s position today, although interviews for the other members slots will be carried out as had been scheduled.

The selection panel will fill the eight positions. Of the 107 doctorate holders who applied for the jobs, 24 of them are serving professors and the applicants included architects, engineers and medical doctors, underscoring the high stakes in the eight positions.

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