An MPs’ committee yesterday intensified negotiations to resolve the last hurdle on the numbers and terms of new electoral commissioners.
The joint Parliamentary Select Committee on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which has resolved the bulk of the concerns, decided to work late into the night to beat today’s midnight deadline.
Sources explained that CORD and Jubilee negotiators were yet to agree on whether seven or nine commissioners would be recruited in the new-look IEBC. The team also could not agree whether or not the commissioners should work full time.
But a draft document seen by The Standard indicated that the committee, in its report, would recommend a negotiated dignified exit from office of the current IEBC commissioners, agreed on by the outgoing bosses with the Attorney General, the Treasury Cabinet Secretary and the Salaries and Remuneration Commission within two weeks of the adoption of the report by Parliament.
The team would also recommend a seamless transition between the nine commissioners led by Issack Hassan and the new team.
With respect to the IEBC secretariat, the committee is expected to recommend that the existing commission’s disciplinary mechanisms be applied as appropriate.
The committee has reportedly agreed to a selection panel appointed by the President to recruit the new poll commissioners.
The parties reportedly agreed that IEBC should engage an independent body to conduct a technical audit of the Principal Voters Register.
The team agreed that for the purposes of the audit and for future maintenance of the register, the National Registration Bureau and all other agencies and institutions that hold information on Kenyan citizens should provide it electronically to the IEBC for cross-referencing.
The selection panel to pick new poll commissioners will consist of four persons; two men and two women, nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission and one person each representing the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the National Muslim Leaders Forum, the Kenya Council of Imams and Ulamaa, and the Hindu Council of Kenya.
The Parliamentary Service Commission will provide secretariat services to the panel.
On party nominations, IEBC may conduct and supervise party nominations in accordance with Article 88 of the Constitution.
The committee agreed to present three amendment Bills to Parliament for consideration. They will draft the changes to the Elections Act, Election Offences Act and Registrar of Political Parties Act, to make the registrar’s office more autonomous.
The committee co-chairs told the media that there were some issues they had not agreed on.
Senator James Orengo (Siaya) said: “We have made tremendous progress. About 90 per cent of the report and recommendations are done. What we are doing now is aligning the draft Bills to the report then we present to President Uhuru Kenyatta and the CORD co-principals.”
His co-chair, Kiraitu Murungi, said they would work overtime to meet the deadline.
“We have two or three sticky issues that we have to iron out. But we are happy that we have agreed on most things,” said Mr Kiraitu.
Leaders of the two coalitions are to issue separate statements on the resolutions.