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Inside The IEBC Act That Paves Way For Hiring Of New Electoral Commission

Inside The IEBC Act That Paves Way For Hiring Of New Electoral Commission

A contentious issue fueling protests in Kenya has been resolved with the signing of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) (Amendment) Bill, 2024 into law.

Protesters in recent anti-tax demonstrations called for a reconstitution of the IEBC to facilitate the hiring of new commissioners and the recall of underperforming legislators.

Responding to these demands, President William Ruto signed the IEBC (Amendment) Bill on Tuesday, establishing a selection panel for appointing new IEBC commissioners.

President Ruto emphasized that the new commissioners must ensure the electoral body conducts elections transparently, impartially, efficiently, neutrally, accurately, and accountably.

“I agree with leaders who insist on professionalism and integrity as essential principles for those overseeing our elections,” he stated.

The IEBC bill, influenced by the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO) report, was the first passed by Parliament following the contested 2022 presidential election, which saw some IEBC commissioners reject Ruto’s victory.

New regulations under the IEBC Act require candidates for IEBC commissioner to have at least ten years of proven experience and expertise in Information and Communication Technology or accounting to enhance the Commission’s efficiency.

The selection panel now consists of nine members, up from seven, to ensure a broader representation of stakeholders and interest groups. The panel includes two individuals nominated by the Parliamentary Service Commission (one from the majority party and one from the minority), three nominated by the Political Parties Liaison Committee (one not from a parliamentary party), one nominated by the Law Society of Kenya, one by the Institute of Certified Public Accountants of Kenya, and two by the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

After each general election, the Commission must review its operations and implement necessary changes to improve efficiency, effectiveness, transparency, and accountability. The Secretary to the Commission will serve a three-year term, renewable for one additional three-year term.

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“The review must be completed within one year after each general election, and the Commission shall publish and submit the report to Parliament,” the law states.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga remarked that the Act comes amid significant unrest due to nationwide protests against taxation and President Ruto’s administration.

“Many of the youth’s concerns are addressed in the NADCO report. Full implementation will resolve their issues,” the former Prime Minister said. He also advocated for broader engagement beyond committees like NADCO to fully address public grievances.

The new law mandates President Ruto to appoint members of the selection panel, which will choose its chairperson from within its ranks at its first meeting. Applications for commissioner positions will be invited within seven days of the panel’s formation, followed by shortlisting and interviews.

“The chairperson of the Commission must meet the qualifications of a Supreme Court judge,” the law stipulates.

Within 90 days, the panel must submit two candidates for the chairperson position and nine for commissioner positions. The panel will then be dissolved. President Ruto will select one chairperson and six commissioners from the submitted names and forward them to the National Assembly for approval. If approved, the names will be sent back to Ruto for appointment.

The Act also permits the recall of MPs scrutinized for competence by the public.

Inside The IEBC Act That Paves Way For Hiring Of New Electoral Commission

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