Bipartisan team picks Sifuna and Sigei to lead IEBC reconstitution

Bipartisan committee members after they addressed the media at the Bomas of Kenya on May 17, 2023. The team says it will focus on the electoral body matters first as dialogue gets underway. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

The bipartisan committee has formed a six-member team to discuss the reconstitution of the Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Speaking at Bomas of Kenya, the committee co-chairs Otiende Amollo and George Murugara said they had agreed to prioritise the reconstitution of IEBC and address it in the next meeting.

Members of the sub-committee are senators Edwin Sifuna (Nairobi), Enoch Wambua (Kitui), Boni Khalwale (Kakamega), Hillary Sigei (Bomet) and MPs Millie Odhiambo (Suba North) and Mwengi Mutuse (Kibwezi West).

Amollo said Mr Sifuna will lead the Azimio team, while Mr Sigei will lead the Kenya Kwanza group.

“We have formed a sub-committee comprising six members from each side, with Edwin Sifuna, Wambua, and Milly Odhiambo as members representing the Azimio side, and Khalwale, Hillary Sigei, and Mutuse representing Kenya Kwanza. Sifuna will lead the team from Azimio, while Sigey will lead the Kenya Kwanza team,” Amollo said.

The bipartisan talks committee also settled on a hybrid system to guide the nature of talks before discussions of issues presented by the government and opposition.

This follows week-long discussions after the committee ruled out the executive route owing to the fact that some issues to be discussed touch on the Constitution and might require a constitutional amendment.

The committee co-chairs pointed out that letters have been dispatched to Speakers of the Senate and National Assembly to officially confirm the existence of the committee.

Ascent from the Speakers will recognise the committee as part and parcel of Parliament.

“Extra parliamentary means we will have people who are not parliamentarians coming in also into the talks and discussing with us the issues in contention, and assist us,” said Murugara.

Apart from being recognised as a parliamentary committee, the bipartisan team is also seeking Parliament’s support in terms of funds and facilitation including the Hansard services.

Amollo said reconstitution of IEBC would be the committee’s top priority as they begin their work within the first 30 days of sitting.

“As you will have noticed from the two respective teams, the IEBC question is a common issue for both teams. We have discussed and we have agreed that it’s a one of utmost importance, and we’ll prioritise it,” he said.

The government’s agenda for the committee encompasses the two-thirds gender rule, the entrenchment of NG-CDF,

The National Government Affirmative Action Fund and Senate oversight funds in the Constitution, the creation of an office Leader of the Official Opposition and the resolution of insecurity problems.

Additional issues include electoral reforms to prevent any subsequent disputes over presidential outcomes and the institution of a legal framework to give effect to Article 37 and regulate conduct and assign responsibilities to different parties including organisers of demonstrations.

The opposition submitted issues around the cost of living, Audit of the 2022 presidential election results, measures to prevent interference with political parties and outstanding constitutional matters including governance issues, effective Checks and balances and boundary delimitation.