Road to 2027: President kicks-off process to appoint IEBC bosses

President William Ruto signs new IEBC bill which was developed from NADCO report into law at KICC on July 09,2024. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

The signing into law of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill 2024 by President William Ruto has kick-started the rigorous process of appointing new commissioners at the agency.

Ruto, by putting pen to paper, rendered the current Nelson Makanda-led IEBC selection panel dissolved, and with it, is now expected to appoint a new panel to spearhead the selection process.

“The selection panel existing immediately at the commencement date of this Act ceases to exist but a person who served as a member of that selection panel may be nominated to serve as a member of a selection panel appointed under this Act,” reads the IEBC Act 2024.

According to law, the President now has 14 days to appoint a new panel, which will in turn facilitate the appointment of a chairperson and commissioners at the now run-down IEBC.

The new panel as per the IEBC Act 2024, shall consist of 9 members after the Bill expanded the membership from a previous seven to nine. It shall be made up of two persons nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission headed by National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula, representing the majority/minority parties or coalitions of parties.

It will also consist of three persons nominated by the Political Parties Liaison Committee of whom one shall be from a party other than a Parliamentary party or coalition of parties, another from a political party or coalition forming the national government whereas one should be from a party or coalition not forming government.

Notably, only parties with more than 17 members in Parliament may nominate a representative to the selection panel.

Further, it will consist of one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), one person from the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya and two persons nominated by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

“The respective nominating bodies shall, within 14 days of the declaration of a vacancy in the office of the chairperson or member of the Commission, submit the names of their nominees to the Parliamentary Service Commission for transmission to the President for appointment,” reads the Act.

It also stipulates that the respective nominating bodies shall select the nominees for appointment through a competitive and transparent process and that it shall ensure that not more than two-thirds of the nominees are of the same gender.

“A person is qualified for appointment as a member of the selection panel if he/she is a Kenyan citizen, meets the requirements of leadership and integrity set out in Chapter Six of the Constitution; and holds a degree from a university recognized in Kenya,” further states the Act.

Upon receipt of the names, President William Ruto will then be required to appoint the panel within seven days.

Subsequently, the selection panel shall, within seven days of its appointment, invite applications from qualified persons and publish the names of all applicants and their qualifications in the Gazette, two newspapers of national circulation and on the website of the Parliamentary Service Commission.

The panel will then have considered the applications, shortlist and interview the applicants before forwarding the names of one person for appointment as the chairperson and six persons for appointment as commissioners to the President for nomination.

“The selection panel shall finalize the recruitment exercise within 90 days of its appointment and forward the names of the nominees to the President and shall thereafter stand dissolved,” states the Act.

Further, President Ruto will within seven days of receipt of the names forward the list of nominees to the National Assembly for approval in accordance with the Public Appointments (Parliamentary Approval) Act. If approved, by the House, the commissioners will now assume office. 

Notably, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)is currently a shell of its former shelf and lacks commissioners, which has in turn held it back from performing key operations such as by-elections and the long overdue boundaries review process.

Operations at the electoral agency have currently ground to a halt following the exit of Chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye.

They retired in January 2023. Four other commissioners namely vice chairperson Juliana Cherera, Francis Wandera, Justus Nyang’aya and Irene Masit were kicked out of office following their rejection of the 2022 Presidential election results that declared President William Ruto winner.

However, with IEBC fully constituted, it will be instrumental in ending the plight of voters in Banissa constituency in Mandera and two wards in Western who have gone for months without an MP and MCAs respectively, after the positions fell vacant.

It will also ensure the commencement and conclusion of the boundaries delimitation exercise that was constitutionally supposed to have been concluded by March 2024 but delayed due to the lack of a properly constituted electoral body.