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January 19, 2019

MPs aggree on setting up a selection panel to appoint IEBC commissioners

Justice and legal affairs parliamentary committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga at parliament buildings during a committee siting.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE
Justice and legal affairs parliamentary committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga at parliament buildings during a committee siting.Photo/HEZRON NJOROGE

Four IEBC commissioners are likely to be sent packing, the clearest indication yesterday when MPs resolved to form a panel of seven to help in the appointing of their replacements.

The Juctice and Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Samuel Chepkonga said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act will be amended to provide an appropriate bipartisan mechanism for nomination, approval and appointment of the panel's chairperson and members.

Cord and Jubilee will each nominate a man and a woman to the panel while the other three - who must not be members of a political party - will be competitively recruited by Public Service Commission.

"The committee acknowledges that electoral reforms are not only valid but necessary to facilitate the restructuring of our electoral system," said Chepkonga. "However, electoral reforms should be preceded by constructive and exhaustive national debate, clear, informed and structured negotiations and dialogue."

The committee also proposes that the Constitution be amended to increase from 14 to 30 the number of days the Supreme Court can hear a presidential election petition. It also proposed that the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal be allowed to determine disputes arising out of party primaries. These two issues had earlier been agreed with the Judicial Working group on elections.

Chepkonga said his committee has agreed to work with the House Committee on Implementation of the Constitution chaired by Githunguri MP Njoroge Baiya to conduct nationwide public hearings on the proposed electoral reforms when Parliament resumes on June 6.

Chepkonga's committee proposes IEBC to increase the period of opening the Principal Register of Voters for inspection from 60 to 90 days from the date of next general election while the inspection period be increased from 14 to 30 days.

The committee has demanded changes in compiling the register of voters conducted within 30 days to the polls, political parties to nominate candidates 90 days before an election while hearing and determining all internal disputes arising from the nomination done within 45 days.

Political parties will have to ensure candidates for MP have university degrees and MCA candidates have post-secondary school diplomas from recognized institutions.

The committee also proposes parties submit their membership lists to the electoral commission 120 days before the general elections and 45 days before a by-election.

Public officers eying an elective seat will have to resign a year before the general elections and seven days after the declaration of a by-election.

Polling stations shall not exceed 700 voters.

The committee requires political parties to have a Code of Conduct and meaningful participation of special interest groups in decision-making positions.

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