The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament has taken a sober approach to forestall a crisis on the replacement of the commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). They know that the existing mode of appointing commissioners, in case the current ones leave office suddenly, will be a source of political friction.
The MPs have been looking at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act – the law setting up the IEBC—with a view to finding what the chairman Samuel Chepkonga termed an “acceptable” mode of picking new commissioners.
It is a positive step in the legislature because it is part of the political conversation on how the current commissioners should be sent home, and the electoral commission reformed before the next General Election. Granted, the commissioners in the current commission were picked by President Kibaki and the then Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
But in the current matrix where they appear to have lost favour with one-half of the country, while the other half dismisses them as appointees of the long-dead coalition government, the MPs should be keen on the manner of picking the next elections referee. It will help a great deal if the MPs stopped looking at the process of picking the new IEBC as a political competition between the ruling Jubilee Coalition and the Opposition CORD.
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Political party loyalties have no place in an electoral commission. In fact, there is a reason why the IEBC commissioners are barred from vying for elections for at least one election cycle after they leave office. MPs must be warned that if they insist on having their loyalists in the IEBC, then the country will end up with a terribly dysfunctional commission and that is a recipe for anarchy.