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No confidence vote: MPs pile pressure on IEBC bosses

By Moses Nyamori | March 5th 2019
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati. Legislators declare sending his team home is now a question of when and not if. [File, Standard]

Lawmakers have vowed to kick out the current electoral commissioners and replace them with a new team before the boundaries review exercise next year.

Yesterday, MPs from across the political divide said the current Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) team chaired by Wafula Chebukati should not be allowed to supervise any electoral process.

They want the commissioners to leave office as soon as possible so as the country can start hiring new commissioners who will oversee the boundary review, a possible referendum and the 2022 elections.

Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula, National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi, Jubilee nominated MP Maina Kamanda, Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren), Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, nominated MP Godfrey Osotsi and nominated Senator Isaac Mwaura said sending the team home is now a question of when and not if.

The fresh push to reconstitute the commission comes in the backdrop of a report by National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee (PAC) that has recommended the sacking of Mr Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.

The committee has cited alleged inflation and manipulation of procurement of election materials in the 2017 elections that cost the country a record Sh70 billion.

The House will either adopt or reject the report that may mark the beginning of the dramatic disbandment of the commission.

Yesterday, Mbadi asked the commissioners to vacate office so that new commissioners can be picked by July this year.

He said the current team should not be allowed to handle any major electoral processes, including the boundaries review set for next year after population census scheduled for August this year.

“We will not allow these same people to supervise the review of boundaries. What this country needs at the moment is to kick off recruitment of new commissioners and have them in office by July,” he said.

The Suba South MP said Opposition chief Raila Odinga’s ODM was pushing for a model where political parties would pick commissioners to the electoral agency.

“The position of our party is that political parties should propose names to the commission subject to Parliament’s approval,” he said.

Mbadi further said the current secretariat should not be spared in the overhaul as it has been poisoned by the rot in the agency.

Wetang’ula said President Uhuru Kenyatta should take advantage of the prevailing political lull to put in motion the process of hiring new commissioners.

The Ford Kenya party leader said the commission was not properly constituted following the dramatic resignation of former vice chairperson Consolata Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat.

“A commission of seven with three left is not properly constituted. We must find a solution because crying after events does not deter or recover lost funds,” said Wetang’ula.

Kamanda said “the commissioners should have gone like yesterday”.

“The commission is rotten and Parliament should start the process of hiring a new commissioners,” he said.

Mutula said on restructuring of IEBC, it is no longer about if the changes should be done but when they should be effected.

Eseli said even without the PAC report the commissioners should vacate office since “they have failed the country in delivering their mandate”.

“What we need to do is to follow recommendations of Kriegler and have new commissioners in good time. There is no need to wait for the elections to near then we rush and end up with the wrong people in the office,” he said.

Osotsi, however, warned that the process should be done within the confines of the law.

“We are all in agreement that something must be done about IEBC, but we must be careful and follow the Constitution since this is an independent commission,” said Osotsi.

In the special report tabled in the National Assembly, the committee said there was intense conflict at the commission over multi-billion contracts tenders between the commissioners and the secretariat.

Chebukati is also said to have awarded a law firm associated with him contracts worth millions of shillings to represent the commission in various poll petitions, in a clear conflict of interest.

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