No talk with gov’t on sendoff perk yet – IEBC chair Issack Hassan
The has been no talk between the government and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) commissioners on their sendoff package with just four days to their proposed exit date, the commission chair Ahmed Issack Hassan has said.
Speaking when he appeared before the Senate Committee on Public Accounts, Issack said the commissioners had been asked to wait until new election laws come to effect before engaging in such talks.
He, however, said that there is goodwill between the government and IEBC commissioners to ensure they exit in a dignified manner without affecting preparations for the 2017 General Election.
IEBC commissioners had agreed to leave office by September 30th and see through a smooth transition into a new commission as the country prepares the next polls.
The commissioners, whose term was to expire after next year’s General Election, had given conditions for their exit from office including immunity from prosecution and payment of sendoff package including their salaries of their remaining term.
The Salaries and Remuneration Commission (SRC) has also defended itself by saying it is not responsible for the delayed agreement on a send off package.
SRC Vice Chair, Daniel Ogutu, blamed National Treasury for the delay saying that as a commission, they are ready to effect the package once they receive communication from the Treasury.
National Treasury Cabinet Secretary, Henry Rotich, has, however, accused IEBC commissioners of lagging the process by failing to present a severance package proposal to the Ministry for consideration.
The decision to form a new commission was reached as a means to end CORD’s month-long demonstration against IEBC, which they accused of crafting plans to rig the elections in favour of President Uhuru Kenyatta.
CORD had also accused some of the IEBC commissioners including its chair Issack Hassan of corruption and apparent link to the Chickengate scandal.
Other individuals linked to the scandal which involved the receiving of bribery from a UK-based firm in the awarding of tender for the supply of ballot papers included former IEBC CEO James Oswago, former Energy Cabinet Secretary (who at one time worked at the defunct Interim Independent Electoral Commission) and former Kenya National Examinations Council (Knec) secretary Paul Wasanga.
Already CORD leader Raila Odinga has told the commissioners to abide by the recommendations in the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee (JPSC) and vacate office by September 30, 2016.
Though remaining mum on the next course of action should the commissioners remain in office past the agreed date, Raila said that as it stands Kenyans are paying salaries of more commissioners instead of the seven proposed in the report.
Meanwhile, Issack has said that IEBC cannot do anything to tame party hopping saying they can only hold by-elections after Parliament Speakers have declared the seats of leaders who have decamped to other parties vacant.
“Party hopping has been a disease for a very long time. We decided to provide a window for those who were afraid of being rigged out,” he said.
“We can only call for by-elections if the speakers declare the seats vacant. There is a legal procedure that should be adhered to before we take any action.”
On campaign expenditure, the IEBC boss said that the regulations will only become operational upon Parliamentary approval.
“We shall supply a detailed document explaining the criteria that was used to allocate the campaign expenditure.”
He also ruled our possibility of changing the election dates saying such alterations require a referendum.
“Politicians who have hopped into other parties have automatically breached the law but we shall only come in when all the other processes are exhausted, if there will be need for by-elections,” said Hassan.
“We believe even as we vacate office, we leave behind an able secretariat to spearhead the nation towards a free and fair election without much interference.”
He further noted that the commission would freely hold party nominations, when called upon, without interfering with the General Election.
“Cost of conducting primaries is not clear under new laws. The timelines put in the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee (JPSC) report was not put in the law.”
He called on Kenyans to register as voters saying anyone has the democratic right to register anyone in the country.