The process of appointing of IEBC commissioners needs to start earnestly!

The process of appointing of IEBC commissioners needs to start earnestly!

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James M. N started this petition to President Uhuru Kenyatta

We hereby petition the President to earnestly start the process for appointing commissioners to the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

In April 2018, three commissioners resigned in a news conference, and later, in Dec 2018, Justice Chacha Mwita confirmed that their resignation was firmly made. This had followed a resignation from Commissioner Roselyn Akombe in October 2017, a few days before the repeat election.

Fewer Commissioner, less diverse decisions

As such, the IEBC has had only three remaining Commissioners - Chairman Chebukati and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu. While this current team can’t be termed as “illegally constituted”, it definitely is inadequately constituted. The level of diverse discussions and discourse within the Commission is hampered, as fewer commissioners mean that fewer skillset and professions are represented. A three-man commission should also not be held under the intense pressure a national election often exerts, especially noting that our politicians are full of dramatic schemes.

Boundaries Review

We are also in the throes of a boundaries review process. As set out in the 2010 Constitution, electoral boundaries maybe reviewed after a national census. Reviewing of boundaries has always been a hot issue, anywhere in the world. Enter Kenyan politicians and you have a world-winning recipe for chaos, now compounded by a three-man team at IEBC. Setting up electoral boundaries is a critical step in ensuring proper representation.

Elections as a catalyst for Maturity in Democracy

As democracies grow, their maturity is directly linked to the manner that they handle elections. Since the days of “Mulolongo”, Kenya has shown some maturity in the way we handle elections. We however, do not seem to overcome a number of obstacles; one key challenge being the independence offered to the institution in charge of elections. Political parties and personalities have in many ways tried to influence elections by installing their “people” in the commissions and secretariat. They especially cause a crisis after every national election leading to the appointment of a new team, just before another national election. The import of this is that, after Prof. Kivuitu, we have not had a team that conducted two national election cycles.

We therefore have not had much of institutional memory, we have not built on the lessons of the previous cycle. We have often changed the entire election infrastructure at the eleventh hour: Commissioners, employees, secretariats, returning officers. This is definitely not sustainable, nor a progressive means of building up institutions.

Therefore,

It is critical that the three-man team, set to exit the commission in three years time, be beefed up with the appointment of at least four more commissioners.

  • To improve the diversity of discourse within the commission;
  • Positively impact the quality of decisions that they make;
  • Properly pass on the institutional memory for how to better handle elections.

The process to appoint commissioners begins by the President setting up a Selection Panel that would advise him on various persons who would join the IEBC Commissison. 

Mr President, we the undersigned petitioners, hereby firmly request that this process earnestly begins.

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