Kenyan MPs focus on taming power wars at IEBC
Parliament is planning to nip in the bud perceived ‘two centres of power’ within the Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya (IEBC) by amending the law.
Some legislators are mulling on an amendment on IEBC Act to be tabled this week, six months to the General Election along side another Bill to make Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) mandatory. This will put focus on IEBC a month after revising its initial election roadmap for the March 4.
“It’s a dangerous state of affairs at IEBC that has to be fixed before elections. As things stand now, the country faces serious risks in case of any slight dispute over the presidential election results,” noted Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale.
Khalwale told The Standard On Sunday he had already drafted an amendment, but was first seeking consensus among MPs before moving.
“I do not want individual glory and will seek full House support for the amendment to pass smoothly,” said Khalwale.
Khalwale claimed IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan and the Chief Executive Officer James Oswago command parallel centres of power.
He said documents in his possession show the BVR tendering was clean, but was twice shot down by the CEO.
“The two centres of power are to blame for what befell the BVR tendering. The chairman was helpless,” added Khalwale.
Nominated MP Musikari Kombo said he would readily support the amendment because such power struggles are unhealthy in any institution.
“It is absolutely timely. It is a dangerous scenario that is why our current Coalition Government has problems,” added Kombo.
Khalwale says the proposed amendment makes the IEBC chairman the head of the commission with final word on tendering and election materials.
“The chairman should also be the only person to announce the winner of the presidential election,” added Khalwale.
Khalwale and Nominated MP George Nyamweya, both of United Democratic Forum (UDF), hinted at the planned amendment in Busia last week. And as the amendment is awaited, plans are also afoot to make BVR mandatory.
MPs led by nominated legislator Mohammed Affey have drafted a Bill to stop IEBC from registering voters manually.
Apart from registration, the MPs propose that registration should only be authenticated through the BVR, the use of appropriate electronic technology in voting, tallying, and transmission of results.
The country has only two weeks to kick off of the voter registration as earlier assured by Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Eugene Wamalwa.
Acquisition of the BVR kitty was on.
But Nyamweya reiterated the need for IEBC to fast track its activities and start voter registration warning time was running out with less than five months to prepare for polls.
“IEBC must wake up or else they are going to put this country into problems,” added Nyamweya.
Hassan has assured that the registration of voters already delayed by BVR acquisition will not delay the polls.
Hassan had indicated the commission was already working on a fall back plan of using the equipment acquired for the BVR pilot process in the run up to the 2010 referendum on the Constitution.
At some point, the IEBC had opted for manual registration of voters, only to be over-ruled by the Cabinet, before the Government stepped in with the help of Canadian government.
The Government agreed to initiate amendments in Parliament to the Elections Act in order to reduce the period for closure of the register from 90 to 45 days.
Last month, IEBC made changes to its election roadmap in line with changes made to the Elections Act and the Political Parties Act.
The changes were made through the Statute Law (Miscellaneous Amendment) Act, 2012, with elections now set to run from November 4 to March 4, 2013.
The Elections Act requires IEBC to publish a notice in the Kenya Gazette and in electronic and print media of national circulation at least 60 days before the election date outlining the day political parties have to submit a party list.
Further, the notice is also to state the day for the nomination of candidates for the elections. The IEBC is set to publish the notice four months before the General Election on November 4, 2012.
Political parties are required to submit their nomination rules by October 17 after MPs amended Section 27 of the Elections Act requiring political parties to submit their rules at least three months before the nomination of candidates.
Before the amendment, parties should have submitted the rules six months to the nominations. The Elections Act requires that political party nominations to have been completed at least 45 days before the elections, that is on January 18, 2013.
Political parties ought to submit their respective rules to the Registrar of Political Parties at least four-and-a-half months before the elections, to comply with the new provisions.
By Stephen Makabila, The Standard
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