Cord leaders demand major IEBC changes

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EZRACHILOBAThe Opposition Tuesday dismissed the appointment of a new chief executive at the electoral commission as a step that will mean little because the body requires a complete overhaul.

Cord MPs said the problems at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission were systemic and deep-rooted and can only be cured through a thorough restructuring.

The new CEO is Mr Ezra Simiyu Chiloba, who has been described as a specialist in electoral governance and political management.

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He was named to the position on Monday night by IEBC chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan from a shortlist of four presented by consultancy firm, PriceWaterhouseCoopers.

He succeeds Maj (Rtd) James Oswago, whose term expired while he was facing prosecution over a multi-million shillings scandal over the purchase of electronic equipment used in the 2013 General Election.

UNDER DURESS

Senate Minority Leader Moses Wetang’ula said the new CEO is likely to work under duress with the current set up of the electoral commission whose credibility, he said, remains in question.

“We know he hasn’t eaten any chicken yet and we hope he will be able to discharge his new responsibility without any interference,” he said.

Mr Chiloba takes over when some electoral commissioners and managers are in the spotlight over the “chicken scandal”. A Lodon court last month found directors of a London security printing firm, Smith&Ouzman, guilty of bribing election officials to secure tenders for the printing of ballot papers
ODM chairman John Mbadi also told the Nation that Cord’s position remained that the whole IEBC team should go home.

“There is nothing positive that can come out of the commission because the team has been thoroughly compromised,” he said. “For us the issue is not the CEO but the entire team should go away. A team that gets bribes to print ballot papers has no business continuing to be in office so whatever they are doing has no consequences for us,” he said in a telephone interview.

Mr Mbadi and Mr Wetang’ula were referring to a case in which IEBC’s predecessor, the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC), was implicated in the corruption case involving Smith&Ouzman.

FOUND GUILTY

In the case, which was being heard in a London court, the company was found guilty of bribing IIEC officials to award them ballot printing contracts. The company’s managers will be sentenced next month. Some of the officials who worked at IIEC were appointed to the IEBC.

Speaking separately at Aga Khan University Hospital after visiting Kisumu Town West MP Olago Aluoch who is undergoing treatment, Mr Wetang’ula said there was a likelihood of mischief being played against the new CEO hence the need to look at the entire leadership structure.

Mr Wetang’ula, who is also the Bungoma Senator, said IEBC’s structure and conduct were a different matter altogether from the appointment of a CEO.

Dr Chris Wamalwa, who is the deputy minority whip in the National Assembly, said Cord was satisfied with the process of picking the new CEO because it had been conducted by a respected firm.

“Unfortunately, this guy is going to work with people who are contaminated,” he said. “An ideal situation would be to have them leave to create a conducive and clean environment for the new CEO to work.”

-nation.co.ke

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