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How handshake made Raila party forget IEBC reforms

How handshake made Raila party put IEBC reforms on the back burner

In Summary

• The opposition has had a record of attempting to institute reforms at IEBC after the 2013 and the 2017 elections, but they lose steam months after election dust has settled.

ODM chairman and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi.
ODM chairman and National Assembly Minority Leader John Mbadi.
Image: FILE

The upcoming Kibra by-election has sparked concern over the slow pace in which stakeholders are approaching reforms at IEBC.

The overhaul of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had picked momentum after the 2017 General Election, but with the handshake between President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition chief Raila Odinga, the proponents are in slumber three years to the  2022 General Election.

The opposition has had a record of attempting to institute reforms at IEBC after the 2013 and the 2017 elections, but they lose steam months after election dust has settled.

Reforming the electoral agency has always been a thorny issue in every election, with political parties seeking influence in the operations of the commission.

Just last month, the ruling Jubilee carried the day in the National Assembly as it defeated the opposition that had attempted to push for amendments that would see the three remaining IEBC commissioners forced to resign.

Minority Whip and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed had attempted to have IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu removed from office and pave way for recruitment of new commissioners.

It therefore means that if the Bill, which is currently before the Senate, will be passed without amendments, the recruiting panel will only fill vacancies that were left by commissioners who resigned.

Former commissioner Roselyne Akombe was the first the quit after the repeat presidential election in October 2017 and months later,  she would be followed by Connie Nkatha (then Vice Chairperson) and commissioners Paul Kurgat and Margaret Mwachanya.

Currently, there is no law providing the procedure of recruiting new commissioners and the IEBC  (Amendment) Bill, 2019, has provided  a mechanism on how to pick the selection panel for the commissioners and subsequent appointments should a vacancy arise.

ODM’s director of political affairs and the chairman of the Public Accounts Committee which had recommended that the entire commissioners leave office insisted that ODM will push for the reforms ahead of 2022.

“As a party, we are not relenting; we will ensure that the issues we have been fighting for are instituted before we go to the next General Election. The procurement process of the commission should be tightened well,” the Ugunja MP said.

An IEBC internal report had revealed that about Sh1 billion may have been lost through flawed procurement of materials for last year's general election held on August 8 and the repeat on October 26.

Among anomalies unravelled included goods being delivered after the polls, inflated tenders and undelivered goods.

Chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs in the National Assembly William Cheptumo said Parliament was already doing its part in ensuring that there is a credible commission before 2022.

“Parliament is sized in the matter. In the National Assembly, we have already passed the amendment bill and it is now in the Senate. From there, we will have a panel to fill the vacancies availed," he told the Star.

He added: “The new team will be joining the remaining commissioners who will then implement all the reforms proposals from their own internal audit report to address concerns raised in the Supreme Coutrt.”