Explained: What next after Ruto assents to the IEBC Bill?

President William Ruto. [PCS]

President William Ruto on Tuesday, July 9 signed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Amendment Bill, 2024, into law, paving the way for a properly constituted electoral body.

This follows the retirement of former IEBC officials, including Chair Wafula Chebukati, who served for six years.

The IEBC Bill signed today is backed by NADCO's recommendation.

How IEBC commissioners are appointed

According to the IEBC Act of 2011, the appointment of the chairperson and members of the commission is to be made by a selection panel appointed by the President within 14 days of a vacancy declaration or at least six months before the current officials' terms lapse.

The selection panel must invite applications from qualified individuals, consider them, shortlist candidates, and conduct interviews.

In February 2023, President Ruto appointed a seven-member selection panel via a Gazette notice.

This panel began its work, advertising vacancies and receiving applications for the positions of chairperson and commissioners of IEBC.

However, the process was halted pending the bipartisan NADCO dialogue between the Kenya Kwanza government and the Azimio-One Kenya coalition. This dialogue proposed expanding the selection panel.

Members of Parliament agreed to dissolve the initial panel to accommodate changes in the IEBC Amendment Bill, 2024, which increases the panel's size from seven to nine members.

Changes in the 2024 Act

The new Act stipulates that the selection panel will consist of:

- Two men and two women nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC)

- One person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK)

- Two persons nominated by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK)

- Two representatives from the political parties' liaison committee

Nominating bodies must ensure that no more than two-thirds of the nominees are of the same gender.

Next Steps

With the Bill now law, President Ruto will appoint the nine members of the selection panel.

Previously appointed members may be selected again. The selection panel will elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson from among its members in its first sitting.

Within seven days of appointment, the panel will invite applications from qualified individuals, publishing their names and qualifications. The panel will then shortlist and publicly interview candidates.

Within 90 days, the panel will select two qualified individuals for the chairperson role and nine for commissioner roles. It will then forward these names to the President, who will nominate one person as chair and six as members.

The President will then forward the list of nominees to the National Assembly for approval as per the Parliamentary Approval Act.

Once approved, the President will appoint the chairperson and members within seven days, ensuring compliance with the two-thirds gender rule and regional balance.

Other Changes

Under the new Amendment Act of 2024;

The selection panel will dissolve after forwarding the nominees' names to the President.

Parliament may resolve to extend the selection panel's tenure if needed.

In case of a vacancy in the chairperson position, a new appointment will be made rather than having the vice-chair or any member act as chair.