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Questions as IEBC selection panel defends polls team

By Cyrus Ombati and Luke Anami | January 4th 2017
Lawyer Tukero ole Kina before the IEBC selection panel at County Hall, Parliament Buildings, Nairobi. [Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard]

Questions linger as selection panel defends IEBC nominess denied claims that it was contemplating having a special meeting to rethink their choice of IEBC chairman and some commissioners.

On Tuesday, the panel went to great lengths to defend itself against claims that it had been rocked by infighting following the choices they made after interviewing applicants. There were claims that there were dissenting voices among the panellists over the choice of IEBC nominees.

The panel, chaired by Bernadette Musundi, instead told those with complaints to take them to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs for consideration.

"The attention of the selection panel has been drawn to reports appearing in various media concerning some of the persons selected by the IEBC Selection Panel for nomination to the positions of chairperson and member of the commission," Ms Musundi said.

"In particular, there have been various allegations in the media concerning the suitability or otherwise of Mr Wafula Chebukati and Ms Consolata Nkatha Maina for appointment to the positions of chairperson and member of IEBC, respectively."

She added: "At the outset, the panel wishes to state that these allegations were not brought to the attention of the IEBC Selection Panel by any person and were therefore not in the knowledge of the panel during the selection process."

Other criteria

On December 23, the selection panel settled on Chebukati, alongside High Court advocate Tukero ole Kina for IEBC chairman. Reports indicated that Mr Kina scored 77 per cent against Chebukati's 63 per cent, claims Musundi has disputed.

Sources indicated that Consolata Maina scored 55 per cent and was ranked last by the recruitment panel.

"Marking does not mean it is the end of the process. Other criteria can be considered," Musundi explained.

The other nominees awaiting parliamentary clearance are Boya Molu, Roselyne Kwamboka Akombe, Paul Kibiwott Kurgat, Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya and Abdi Guliye.

The IEBC Selection Panel members are Evans Monari, Mary Karen, Tom Mbaluto, Olga Karani, Peter Karanja, Abdulghafur el-Busaidy, David Oginde and Mohan Lumba.

Integrity questions about some nominees were raised after President Uhuru Kenyatta nominated them last month.

Uhuru's choices came under fire as ODM Director of Elections Junet Mohamed complained that the President had failed to strictly follow ranking as well as consider regional balance.

Other ODM MPs, Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and David Ochieng (Ugenya), accused the Jubilee government of marginalising certain communities when it came to top job positions.

Speaking in Siaya County, the two leaders insisted that there was need for an explanation when the list of the commissioners was tabled in Parliament.

"Tribalism is bad whether applied forward or backward. I want to be told why every time the electoral board is constituted, people from our region are left out and others from certain communities take up the commissioners' jobs. It is not possible that our own community cannot give a commissioner for IEBC," Mr Gumbo lamented.

Both IEBC chairman nominee Chebukati and chief executive Ezra Chiloba come from the same county.

But Musundi yesterday brushed off the concerns.

"Our work was to select the nominees. The rest is beyond us," she said.

At the same time, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale has said MPs might be recalled for a one-day special sitting on January 18 to deliberate over the IEBC nominees.

Speaking to the Press in Garissa town, Mr Duale said when the Speaker receives the nominees' names from the President, he would automatically send them to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

He said the committee would then begin the vetting and subsequent tabling of their report to the House for approval or otherwise.

Duale insisted that Chebukati's nomination was in no way related to Chiloba's tenure, saying the processes that led to their nomination or appointment respectively were fair, competitive and transparent.

"The two went to different interviews at different times and they all got the positions in a very fair and competitive interview process. There is nowhere in the Constitution that says the IEBC chair and CEO should not come from the same community," he added.

Musundi said the only memorandum against Chebukati was one recommending him for the appointment.

"Mr Chebukati was also cleared by the various agencies in the reports received by the selection panel."

She added that no memorandum was received on Consolata and the candidate was cleared by various agencies.

submit memoranda

The nominees, she added, were taken through a rigorous process during which the public and various agencies were asked to submit memoranda on their suitability for the applied jobs.

This included publishing their names in the local media and seeking opinions from various agencies.

"Had the allegations contained in the media been brought to the attention of the selection panel at the appropriate time, the panel would have considered them as it did with respect to all other information received," Musundi said.

She further distanced her team from claims that there might have been dissenting voices among them when the final decision was arrived at.

"The selection panel wishes to reiterate and reassure Kenyans that it undertook the selection process in a fair, open and transparent manner with utmost commitment and dedication," she said.

Musundi urged Kenyans to submit any information they had on the nominees' suitability to Parliament as the selection process was still ongoing.

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