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MPs to seal fate of four IEBC commissioners

National
 IEBC commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Juliana Cherera (Vice Chairperson), Irene Masit and Francis Mathenge. [Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The fate of four electoral body commissioners hangs in the balance as the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) prepares to table a report on petitions seeking their removal from office during a special sitting of the House.

The Standard has learnt that the committee, which spent the past week probing four petitions filed against Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera and commissioners Francis Mathenge, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya, is leaning towards declaring the petitions valid.

This means that the fate of the four commissioners could be decided by a tribunal to be formed by President William Ruto.

The committee retreated to write the report on Tuesday after concluding hearing the petitions filed by Rev Dennis Ndwiga Nthumbi, the Republican Party, Geoffrey Langat and Owuor Steve Gerry, seeking the commissioners’ ouster over allegations of violation of the Constitution, gross misconduct and incompetence.

The report will be tabled on the floor of the House on December 8 during a special sitting. The National Assembly and Senate will adjourn their sittings today to allow members break for Christmas.

A source in the committee said that members are convinced the grounds for removal of the commissioners as laid out in the petitions are sufficient.

According to House procedures, once the committee tables the report, members will have 10 days to decide whether or not the petition raises valid grounds for removal of the commissioners from office.

JLAC commenced hearing of the petitions on November 24 and concluded on November 29. 

The four commissioners did not appear in person but instead sent their advocates to represent them. They also requested more time to file responses.

“The respondents are playing delaying tactics and yet they know we have timelines. We want to tell them that they will not intimidate the committee. We will write the report as is,” said Majority Whip Sylvanus Osoro in response to the request for more time. Azimio la Umoja has accused Kenya Kwanza lawmakers of conducting a witch-hunt in their rush to dispense with the JLAC report before members go on Christmas recess.

Azimio members skipped the committee hearings.

Vetting of PSs

Meanwhile, Parliament was Wednesday rushing to dispense with the vetting of principal secretaries and give Ruto one of the final missing pieces of his government.

The vetting of the 51 PS nominees picked up yesterday after the Employment and Labour Relations Court dismissed three petitions challenging Ruto’s nominees.

But the House could find itself short of time, or be forced to review the timeline of their recess to dispense with the matters under consideration.

While National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula said the House should clear the process by Thursday, MPs will find their clamour for the National Government Constituency Development Fund takes a back seat due to the recess.

“All departmental committees are to conclude the vetting proceedings and approval hearings as soon as possible to allow for the conclusion of the process, in any case noting that the House will be commencing its long recess on December 2 in accordance with its calendar. It is expected the committees will hasten the process and report back by the end of the morning sitting on Thursday, 1st December, to pave way for consideration,” Wetang’ula said Tuesday. 

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