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IEBC announces exit from 2022 polls preparedness team

POLITICS
By Mireri Junior | November 29th 2021

IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati (L) and Interior PS Dr Karanja Kibicho (R). [File, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has written to Interior PS Karanja Kibicho announcing its withdrawal from the 2022 election preparedness team.

In a statement dated Monday, November 29, IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati cited the need for independence as the main reason the commission has opted to leave the National Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum (NMSCF) on Election Preparedness and the Technical Working Committee (TWC) on Election Preparedness.

“After consultations and in-depth critical appraisal of the Terms of Reference of NMSCF on Election Preparedness and TWC, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission would wish to withdraw from further engagements in the activities of the NMSCF and TWC,” said the statement by Chebukati.

The chairperson said a number of the terms of reference of the NMSCF and TWC have a net effect of violating the Constitution by purporting to direct the Commission on how to discharge its mandate, contrary to provisions of the Constitution.

The IEBC boss also expressed fear that NMSCF, as currently constituted, has pushed IEBC to the periphery while giving the centre stage to other institutions which, he said, was "a clear violation of the Constitution".

 The NMSCF on Election Preparedness brings together top officials from the Interior Ministry led by CS Fred Matiang’i, ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru, and Attorney-General Kihara Kariuki; Judiciary led by Chief Justice Martha Koome and other government agencies.

He added that heavy involvement of the institutions will, probably, erode public confidence in the electoral board, which has the mandate to conduct credible polls.

He said as it is; the NMSCF has not only infringed on the independence of the commission but also assumed the role of other institutions, notably the Parliamentary Departmental Committees, especially National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

The statement comes after a protest letter by the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) to IEBC over the inclusion of Cabinet Secretaries Fred Matiang'i (Interior) and Joe Mucheru (ICT) to the multi-agency team planning the 2022 polls.

UDA wanted Matiang’i and Mucheru removed from the team since they have "openly campaigned for ODM leader Raila Odinga's presidential candidature".

Through its Secretary-General Veronica Maina, UDA also wants the electoral body to stop the CSs from meddling in the election preparations, and instead take charge of the exercise as per the law.

Maina said it was wrong and dangerous for IEBC to allow CS Matiang'i to dictate to it how to prepare for the election, whereas it's their constitutional mandate to carry out elections.

UDA is also on record writing to CJ Koome over her involvement in the activities of the Technical Working Committee of the NMSCF on Election Preparedness.

The Chief Justice, however, said contrary to UDA’s claims, it is the Judiciary Committee on Election (JCE) that is involved in the Technical Working Committee’s activities, and not herself.

“The Chief Justice does not sit in the Technical Working Committee as implied in your letter. She leads the Multi-Sectoral Consultative Forum on Election Preparedness by didn’t of seniority,” she said in her response to UDA.

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