DP Ruto gets early win in race to reshape troubled IEBC



The battle to control the electoral agency ahead of 2022 polls played out in Parliament Tuesday when MPs voted to pass a Bill on recruitment of commissioners.

The lawmakers cast their votes in a clear pattern that demonstrated their current political persuasion.

MPs perceived to be allied to Deputy President William Ruto, who voted in support of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Amendment Bill, 2019, carried the day.

Thiswas as a majority of MPs allied to Opposition leader Raila Odinga voted to reject the Bill by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC).

Those opposed to the Bill had sought to have the current commissioners sent home to allow for fresh recruitment instead of replacing the four who have resigned.

Lawmakers from President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard of Mt Kenya were split, with a handful of them voting against the Bill that seeks to provide a mechanism for recruitment of new electoral commissioners whenever vacancies arise. Of 126 MPs who participated in the afternoon vote, 69 lawmakers voted in support while 56 voted to reject the Bill.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Didmus Barasa (Kimilili), Jude Njomo (Kiambu), Rachael Nyamai (Kitui South), John Kiarie (Dagoreti South), Julius Meli (Tinderet) and Joseph Limo (Kipkelion East) were some of the MPs who voted in support of the Bill by the Baringo North MP William Cheptumo-led committee.

Minority Whip Junet Mohammed, Elisha Odhiambo (Gem), Millie Odhiambo (Suba North), Jared Okello (Nyando), Eseli Simiyu (Tongaren), Omboko Milemba (Emuhaya) and Wilson Sossion (nominated) voted against it.

Others who voted against the Bill were Kiambu Woman Rep Gathoni Wamuchomba, William Kamket (Tiaty) and Paul Koinange (Kiambaa).The Bill will now be forwarded to President Uhuru Kenyatta who will either sign it into law or return it to the National Assembly.

Once enacted, the President shall appoint a selection panel consisting of four people nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission. The four will consist of two women and two men.

Another member of the selection panel will be nominated by the Public Service Commission (PSC). The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Law Society of Kenya will each nominate one member.

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

Currently, IEBC has no mechanism for recruiting commissioners, in what has threatened the commission’s operations on crucial decisions over quorum hitch.

Thecommission currently has only three commissioners in office – Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.This was after Commissioner Roselyne Akombe resigned days before the repeat October 26, 2017, presidential election before vice chairperson Connie Nkatha Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat also quit in a huff.

Constitutionof the electoral body has always been a contested issue in every election cycle, with the political class seeking to have influence in the operations of the commission.

The Isaac Hassan-led commission was kicked out from Anniversary Towers in the run-up to 2017 poll, paving way for Chebukati’s team.In the lead-up to the 2017 elections, a Parliamentary Joint Select Committee for Electoral Reforms negotiated the exit for the Hassan team by September 30, 2016.

The current team also found itself on the receiving end, especially from the Opposition ahead of the repeat presidential poll.

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