Parliament has opened the proposed law on picking top electoral agency officials for public comment even as it seeks to bypass religious leaders in the process.
The National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs committee has given the public up to May 28 to submit views on Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) amendment Bill, 2019.
The proposed changes, which have undergone the first reading, give Parliamentary Service Commission more say in picking (PSC) the selection panel that oversees the filling of vacant positions in IEBC, said the William Cheptumo-led committee.
“The committee invites interested members of the public to present any representations they may have on the said Bill,” states the public announcement.
Under the proposals, selection panel will consist seven people, four (two men and two women) nominated by the PSC. The Public Service Commission, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission and the Law Society of Kenya will be allowed to name one person each.
At the moment, Paragraph 1(2) of the First Schedule of the IEBC Act, as revised in 2016, states that the agency’s selection Panel should consist of nine members – four nominated by Parliamentary Service Commission and five by religious groups.
The political class has apparently been cautious of the provision which gives more control to religious leaders. While the law requires the President to publish any vacancy in the Kenya Gazette within seven days, and appoint a selection panel within 14 days, all IEBC commissioners who resigned in the 2017 polls fallout are yet to be replaced.
Among the commissioners, Dr Roselyn Akombe resigned on October 18, 2017 just days before the repeat presidential poll on October 26 the same year.
Last year on April 16, three more -- Connie Maina, Margaret Mwachaya and Paul Kurgat – also resigned, causing a quorum hitch that the electoral body has had to live with to date.