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Petition lodged against team picked to select IEBC officials

By Josphat Thiongó | May 1st 2021
The petitioner claims that the commission did not advertise for the panel membership. [David Njaaga, Standard]

A petitioner has moved to court seeking orders to block the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) recruitment selection panel from assuming office.

Although the four nominated by Parliament and appointed by President Uhuru Kenyatta have already assumed office after they were sworn in by acting Chief Justice (CJ) Justice Philomena Mwilu, the petitioner, Susan Muthoni is challenging the same.

Ms Muthoni sought conservatory orders to block the assumption of office of Dr Elizabeth Muli, Gideon Solonka, Awori James and Elizabeth Odundo nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC), chaired by National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi.

Already, the panel has been constituted and Dr Muli elected as chairperson, with Awori as the vice-chairperson.

Ms Muthoni argues that their nomination was void of transparency, integrity, openness and accountability.

She said the commission did not advertise for the panel membership positions as required by law and resorted to “unprocedurally handpicking the nominees”.

“There is no evidence to show a competitive process or merit in the nomination process,” stated court documents seen by The Standard.

She also noted that the public was not allowed to participate in the process thus denying it the opportunity to interrogate the integrity of the nominees.

She said the public is clueless as to whether the nominees meet the leadership test as provided for in chapter 6 of the constitution.

“The process of nominating the interested parties to the selection panel was neither transparent nor democratic hence the decision of the commission violated the values and principes encapsulated in the constitution… The general public has a legitimate expectation that persons who are to assume public offices should be beyond reproach of high character and integrity,” stated the petition.

Muthoni noted that should the court not intervene, the panel nominees would go ahead and advertise for the four positions of members of IEBC that have fallen vacant, hence perpetuating an illegality to an unseen future.

“…the interest of Justice will be served by an order restraining the nominees from assuming office as members of the IEBC selection panel,” added the petition.

The petition comes days after Justice Antony Mrima issued orders suspending the appointment of Dorothy Jemator to the panel as the Law Society of Kenya’s (LSK) representative.

There had been wrangles at LSK with society's president Nelson Havi nominating a different representative - Morris Mutua - from the faction led by CEO Mercy Wambua.

The six sworn-in are;  Muli, Farudin Suleiman, Odundo, Solonka, Awori, and Father Joseph Mutie.

Their names were officially gazetted by President Kenyatta on Monday.

The panel was formed to fill vacancies left following the exit of commissioners Roselyne Akombe, Margaret Mwachanya, Consolata Nkatha and Paul Kurgat.

According to the IEBC (Amendment) Bill, 2019, institutions with slots at the selection panel are required to submit names to the Parliamentary Service Commission within seven days of declaration of vacancies.

President Kenyatta declared the vacancies on April 14.


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