Battle to control IEBC looms as selection panel takes shape

The selection panel will have its work cut out amid high expectations.

The process to fill four vacant positions at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to start by the end of the week.

Political bigwigs with an eye on the 2022 presidential contest will be fighting behind the scenes to control the recruitment process.

According to the IEBC (Amendment) Bill, 2019, institutions with slots at the selection panel are required to submit names to the Parliamentary Service Commission within seven days of declaration of vacancies.

President Uhuru Kenyatta declared the vacancies on April 14.

This means that the names should be submitted latest Wednesday this week.

The PSC will then upon receipt of the nominees forward them to the President for appointment and gazettement within seven days after their submission to the head of state.

This means that the selection panel to hire the four commissioners must be fully constituted by next week.

Already, the country is working behind schedule given recommendations by the Krigler Commission requiring commissioners to be hired at least 24 months before a general election.

The selection panel will have two men and two women nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission, one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya and two fronted by the Inter-religious Council of Kenya.

This would be a departure from the last selection process in 2016, where religious organisations controlled the recruitment.

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 with national circulation and on the Parliamentary Service Commission website.

The selection panel shall consider the applications, shortlist and interview the applicants. The PSC will provide technical support for the panel.

On Sunday, nominated MP Maina Kamanda told the Star that the new commissioners must be people of impeccable integrity and above political reproach.

“The selection panel, once fully constituted, would have to rise to the occasion and know that their job includes securing the country’s electoral future by appointing Kenyans without integrity concerns,” the MP said.

“It is good that the process will be staggered with new commissioners joining the three already there. That means there will be enough time to orient them and prepare them for the job,” he said.

Former South Mugirango MP and People’s Democratic Party leader Omingo Magara said the next crop of IEBC commissioners must be patriotic.

“This is the time that the country must get it right ahead of 2022. The selection panel must be a panel that will be able to resist external pressures so that meritocracy holds,” he said.

According to the law, a person appointed to the selection panel must be a Kenyan, meets the requirements of leadership and integrity and should be a degree holder from a recognised university.

Until Uhuru signed into law the IEBC (amendment) Bill, 2019, there was no legal framework to fill vacant positions at the IEBC.

The first schedule of the IEBC Act the bill amended, only applies to the recruitment of current commissioners whose terms expire in 2023.

Connie Nkatha (vice chairperson) and members Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya resigned from the commission in April 2018, saying it was difficult to work with chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Roselyn Akombe had left the commission before the presidential rerun in 2017.

Only Chebukati, Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye are in office following the exit of the four commissioners.

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