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IEBC row will delay election, warns Chiloba

Anthony Mwangi and Victor Raballa @PeopleDailyKe

Preparation and management of next year’s General Election could be severely affected—and likely cause a delay of elections schedule—depending on the outcome of the raging debate seeking the removal of commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba yesterday warned that the country is already 70 days late in election preparation thanks to the heated debate over the replacement of IEBC commissioners.

Speaking during a public forum on the August 2017 election at Strathmore University, Chiloba reiterated that commissioners have an important role to play in the delivery of a credible election and what happens to them in the coming days could have an impact on the election scheduling.

“The earliest we can have new commissioners in place will be in January next year. This may complicate the role of the IEBC in conducting a smooth and credible election scheduled for August 8, 2017, unless we are talking of delaying it, ” said Chiloba.

He said having a new team would go against the (Justice Johann) Kriegler Commission which recommended that a commission must be in place at least 24 months before the election. It was the first time the IEBC chief was admitting that the looming removal of commissioners could affect the election schedule.

Changing the August 8 election date spelled out in the Constitution would require a two-thirds majority vote in the National Assembly or a referendum. Chiloba’s comments came as debate in Parliament on the motion seeking to remove the commissioners took off to a murky start when members differed over an amendment.

Mumias East MP Benjamin Washiali had proposed that the motion be amended by removing the section indicating that indirectly elected leaders also be part of those to participate in the talks.

He wants only directly elected leaders involved. But Cord MPs, led by Minority Leader Jakoyo Midiwo and Ruaraka MP Tom Kajwang opposed the move, saying it would be tantamount to changing the whole essence of reforming the commission.

“If we amend the motion as drafted, then the select (joint parliamentary) committee will not be allowed to seek views from experts who are not elected. We will be defeating the meaning of the motion,” said Midiwo.

But an equally annoyed Ol Joro Orok MP John Waiganjo dismissed the motion terming it unconstitutional. He said the matter should be addressed by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.

‘Remove a comma’ He hit out at the Executive, claiming it had been arm-twisted by the Opposition and yielded to pressure in accepting to the formation of the select committee. Kajwang said the motion could not be amended, insisting it was a negotiated document done in a bi-partisan approach.

“Any attempt to remove a comma or a full-stop would be negating the whole meaning of the process,” said Kajwang. But the suggestion incensed Speaker Justin Muturi, who termed Kajwang out-of-order by claiming that Parliament cannot amend the document, saying if that was the case, then the House needed not debate it at all.

Muturi ruled that the matter be taken back to the leadership of the two coalitions for further consultations and directed that no amendment should be carried out unless sanctioned by the leadership. Moving the motion, Majority Leader Aden Duale said the select committee will have 30 days to complete its work.

Nakuru Town East MP David Gikaria said it was clear there was no consensus in the whole process, adding that it was bound to fail. And at Strathmore, Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua insisted there was no alarm, saying it is not late for the re-constitution of the commission to preside over next year’s election.

“We don’t need 24 months to have a new team of commissioners to handle the next election. In my view, 90 days will be enough to sort out everything and deliver good results,” she said.

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