The 2017 elections may have to be postponed if the clamour to purge the IEBC extends from the commissioners to the secretariat.
The general election is scheduled for August 8, 2017. Politicians, especially from the Jubilee Coalition, have declared that the election date will not change, but “real and founded concerns” remain that the polls will be delayed, according to multiple sources.
Yesterday, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman Issack Hassan confirmed inter-office fears that election preparedness would be negatively affected.
“The proposal to vet the secretariat is a concern because these are the people who are concerned with the day-to-day preparations of the elections. This may affect their morale as they are concerned about their job security, which is something that even the CEO has told me,” Hassan said.
The electoral boss confirmed that the commissioners have expressed their willingness to exit early, but are also concerned about election preparations if the secretariat is affected.
“Jubilee and Cord know our position, which we also shared with diplomats and religious leaders. If they reach a political deal we will accept even to leave because we are Kenyans and want a solution found,” Hassan said.
He confirmed that four commissioners wrote to President Uhuru Kenyatta offering to resign, but they were yet to receive a reply to their letters.
Last week, Commissioners Abdullahi Sharawe, Yusuf Nzibo, Albert Bwire and Kule Galma Godana sent their letters to head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua.
Hassan and the other four – Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, Thomas Letangule, Muthoni Wangai and Mohamed Alawi – have however maintained the stand that they should not resign.
If the proposed Joint Parliamentary Select Committee concludes that the commissioners should go home, the political compromise will have major implications for the 2017 election timelines.
Some planned activities in the electoral calender can only be sanctioned by the commissioners and a new secretariat can only be put in place by them.
The commissioners’ exit through a political compromise would lead to MPs’ having to make several amendments to the constitution and other electoral laws.
The constitution outlines the process of the commissioners’ removal, which includes setting up a tribunal, which is not limited in duration.
To avoid this, Parliament would have to amend the constitution and the IEBC Act – a process that would take a minimum of 90 days.
Experts say that this, together with the period needed to set up the select committee, advertise, conduct interviews and recruit, would be at least 150 days, or five months.
A new IEBC would therefore be in place at the end of December this year, giving it only seven months to prepare for the next general election.
The Kriegler Commission, which probed the controversial 2007 elections, recommended that a new commission must be in place at least 24 months before the elections.
The proposed motion, to be tabled in Parliament today, outlines the first mandate of the Joint Select Committee as to inquire into allegations against the commissioners and the secretariat.
The motion gives the second mandate as, “On the findings of (a) above may recommend legal mechanisms for the vacation from office of the current commissioners of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Secretariat in accordance with the Constitution”.
The third mandate is to recommend legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the IEBC and improve the electoral system and process.
This is so as to “ensure the August 2017 elections are free and fair and are administered in an impartial, efficient, simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent manner”.
The fourth mandate is to prepare a report and draft bills on the basis of the findings and recommendations of the process to be completed in 30 days.
Pushing the elections date is not a walk in the park, as it may require a constitutional amendment on all provisions relating to elections.
Parliament has, through a Bill by Ugenya MP David Ochieng, unsuccessfully tried to move the date from August to December.
The suggestion was opposed by some of the political players in the Jubilee Coalition, during a meeting at State House on June 9.
“The Jubilee team for the Joint Select Committee will have 30 days to report back to Parliament. The above term-limit is given by our determination not to interfere with the date of the 2017 general election,” Duale said after the meeting.
Yesterday, TNA chairman Johnson Sakaja and Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr said they would oppose any changes to the election date.
“We must work hard to ensure that the systems are in place to deliver a free and fair election in 2017, regardless of who is in charge. However, I will personally oppose any proposal to postpone the elections,” Kilonzo said.
Sakaja suggested that the purge at the IEBC should be done in cycles if there was any reason to remove the commissioners.
“We must ensure that there is no vacuum in case the commissioners are sent home. But, as Jubilee, we already took a stand – that the election date must not be interfered with,” Sakaja said.
ANC leader Musalia Mudavadi has said his party is opposed to the growing “suspicious narrative” to link electoral reforms to the extension of Parliament’s term.
“This pre-condition being pushed by some MPs amounts to plotting a constitutional coup against the electorate and therefore undermines the sovereign will of the people of Kenya,” Mudavadi said.
select committee should set timelines for reform of the electoral system that respect the constitutional deadline to hold the polls on August 8, 2017.
Speaking under the Political Parties Liaison Committee, the small political parties have said they oppose the nascent attempt by Cord and Jubilee to use the IEBC stalemate as a decoy to postpone the 2017 elections.
He said the