NAIROBI—President William Ruto has been challenged to expedite the reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Issack Malela Ali, a contestant for Banisa constituency parliamentary seat by-election, asked President Ruto’s administration to hasten the process of recruiting new IEBC commissioners amid stand-off between President Ruto-led Kenya Kwanza and Azimio camp over the matter.
Issack’s call comes barely weeks after the required ninety (90) days to have a by-election in Banisa Constituency for vacant position elapsed.
The Commission is facing crisis following the retirement and resignation of some of the commissioners.
Ex-IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, former commissioners: Boya Mulu and Abdi Guliye retired in January after serving their six-year non-renewal term while Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi and Justus Nyang’aya resigned as commissioners late last year after President Ruto appointed a tribunal to investigate their conduct during last year’s General Election.
Ex-Commissioner Irene Masit also pulled-out after the tribunal recommended her ouster.
The process to recruit new commissioners has delayed due to the political stand-off between President William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza and Raila-led opposition team.
Malela Ali now want the government to prioritize the reconstitution of the IEBC Commission for them to conduct the delayed Banisa constituency parliamentary seat by-election.
“The people of Banisa constituency have no one to represent them in the August House even after the statutory ninety(90) days required by law elapsed, and this is because of the crisis in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” Issack Malela told Kulan Post.
“On behalf of the great people of Banisa constituency, I request President William Ruto’s administration to recruit the new commissioners without further delay to avoid creating unnecessary lacuna as far as representation is concerned,” he added.
National Assembly Speaker Moses Wetangula declared Banisa MP seat vacant in a gazette notice dated 18th of April, 2023.
“Pursuant to Articles 101 (4) (a) and 103 (1) (a) of the Constitution as read with section 16 (3) of the Elections Act, 2011, it is notified for the general information of the public that the seat of the member of the National Assembly for Banissa Constituency elected under Article 97 (1) (a) of the Constitution has become vacant with effect from the 29th March 2023,” the Gazette notice stated.
The IEBC was slated to conduct the by-election within ninety (90) days from April 18 when the vacancy notice was announced.
On 6th July while addressing the press, Hussein Marjan said the Commission is unable to comply with court orders and conduct by-elections for various seats across the country.
“We were given a writ by the Speaker of the National Assembly but we cannot be able to do that because it requires chairperson of the commission to gazette the timelines and appointment of returning officers to do that by-election,”Marjan, the CEO of IEBC, said.
“That work cannot be done by the Secretariat. It has to be done by the Commission chaired by the chairperson,” he added.
As at now, IEBC needs to conduct at least three parliamentary and ward by-elections due to deaths and court orders that overturned poll victories.
In response to the reports that negotiated democracy will have its way in Banisa constituency parliamentary seat by-election and that only the younger brother of the late MP will be vie unopposed, Issack Malela poured called water on the plans, saying it is fallacy and inconsequential.
“For avoidance of doubt, let me make it clear for the people of Banisa and the general public that there will be a by-election in the constituency and the constituents will going to elect their preferred member of parliament ,” Mr. Malela noted.
“Disregard the rumors peddled around by my opponents. I’m in the race for Banisa parliamentary seat by-election and the power to choose member of parliament for Banisa constituency remains with the constituents; not with few people who are pushing their personal interests,” he added.
It's been more than three months since the people of Banisa Constituency lost their representatives in the National Assembly. It's prudent that we fast-track the appointment of the new @IEBCKenya Commissioners so that the electorates can make a choice and get a representative.
— Hon. Issack Malela (@issackmalela4) July 9, 2023
The reconstitution of the IEBC Commissioners is one among the five point agenda agreed upon to be discussed by the bipartisan team from President Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza and opposition chief Raila Odinga’s Azimio.
The Banisa MP seat fell vacant after the late MP, Kullow Maalim Hassan died at Aga Khan hospital after he was hit by a motorcycle in March this year.
The Elections Observation Group (ELOG) has called for clarity regarding the fate of the bi-partisan talks amid questions over the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel, which was set to reconstitute the polls body.
Chairperson Anne Ireri also pushed for an amendment to the IEBC Act to impose timelines between the advertisement of the vacant positions and submission of the successful names for appointments.
“Following the expiry of the term of the 3 IEBC commissioners including the chairperson, resignation of 3 others and dismissal of one, the electoral body has remained without commissioners,” ELOG said.
ELOG also noted that the recruitment processes should not be subjected to unnecessary political and partisan maneuvers even as it backed wider consultations with other parties outside of parliament in the IEBC process.
The group pointed out that the vacancies at IEBC have affected by-elections in Magarini, Lagdera and Banisa Constituency.
“The continued uncertainty on when to conduct the above by-elections may lead to the disenfranchisement of the respective residents of these electoral areas,” Ireri added.
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— Kulan Post (@kulanpost) May 22, 2023