Ruto team says reconstitution of IEBC to proceed if talks collapse

Bipartisan Committee Members lead by co-chairs Chairman Tharaka MP George Gitonga Murugara (left)and Otiende Omolo(right), and Millie Odhiambo when they addressed the media at Bomas of Kenya on May 17, 2023. [Jenipher Wachie. Standard].

Kenya Kwanza bipartisan talks team now wants the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel to proceed with the recruitment of commissioners should the Azimio team fail to attend a meeting scheduled for next week.

The committee co-chair George Murugara said they had written to their counterparts in Azimio asking them to resume talks on Tuesday after a month-long break due a busy Parliament calendar.

Murugara noted that the committee decided to conclude key House matters, including the contentious Finance Bill, which has since been signed into law by President William Ruto.

“We had a busy calendar but now we are ready to commence the talks on the 4th of next month to engage on key issues,” he said.

Murugara announced that top of the agenda is the reconstitution of IEBC.

He said they had extended an invitation to the Azimio side to join the meeting, but should they fail the seven-member selection panel that was already sworn into office will continue undertaking their roles.

“Should Azimio fail to show up then we will let the Constitution take its course on the IEBC issues, remember we already have a pending selection panel waiting for the decision of this team,” he said.

The committee co-chair explained that reconstitution of IEBC is an urgent matter as there are pending by-elections. “The country cannot be held at ransom in regards to the reconstitution of IEBC,” he said.

So far, paralysis at the electoral agency has put by-elections scheduled for July in limbo.

Although National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetang’ula declared Banisa seat vacant following the death of MP Kullow Hassan in an accident in March, the constituents will have to wait longer to get a new MP.

Voters in Kisa East Ward in Kakamega are also unrepresented after their MCA Stephen Maloba was stabbed to death.

Members of the selection panel are Bethuel Sugut, Novince Atieno, Evans Misati, Benson Njeri, Charity Kisotu, Nelson Makanda and Fatuma Saman.

Before halting the process, the panel had already received 925 applicants for the positions that were left vacant by the Wafula Chebukati led team.

Azimio on Tuesday, June 27, announced that they were not interested in the talks.

“You were the ones who told us to have a bipartisan approach. Our number one resolution is that time for talks is over,” said DAP-K leader Eugene Wamalwa during a rally at the Kamukunji grounds, Nairobi.

The committee co-chair and Rarieda MP Otiende Amollo, however, said Kenya Kwanza was yet to reach out to them reiterating that the talks stalled after their interim demands were not met.

“Bipartisan is supposed to be just that not unilateral. Kenya Kwanza team has not reached out to us. In any event, the talks stalled when they declined to co-sign the letters to IEBC and to the selection panel. I’m not aware whether they have now signed,” he said

According to Azimio, Kenya Kwanza had offered to write to the IEBC selection panel requesting them to halt the process for about 21-30 days

When suspending the talks last month, Azimio said they made the decision after a parliamentary group meeting demanded for the withdrawal of the Finance Bill 2023.

Other Azimio demands include reduction of the cost of living, an audit of the 2022 presidential election results, and an end to the interference of management and operations of political parties with a view of co-opting them in government to weaken them.

[email protected]