36 applicants shortlisted for four vacant commissioner posts at IEBC

36 applicants shortlisted for four vacant commissioner posts at IEBC

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is a step closer to getting new commissioners after the Selection Panel whittled down to just 36 from more than 700 applicants.

The panel is seeking to replace four commissioners who resigned between 2017 and 2018, but the successful candidates will join a commission running late on its schedules and in dire need of public trust.

The shortlisting of the 36 heralds the commencement of the process of filling the four vacant positions on the IEBC panel following the unceremonious exit of Dr. Roselyne Akombe, Dr. Paul Kurgat, Connie Maina and Margaret Mwachanya after the 2017 General Election.

The list bears the names of many individuals who have served different commissions in the past as well as several less known personalities.

Executive Director at the Electoral Law and Governance Institute of Africa Felix Odhiambo says the selection panel has its work cut out for it to identify individuals who will help boost the confidence of the public in the polls body, but with the IEBC suffering from a crisis of public confidence, a lot is a stake.

“The Selection Panel owes it to this country to ensure they elect people with good levels of integrity as well as people with the character and temperament to handle an election that, in a political context, is likely to be polarised,” said Mr. Odhiambo.

The Kriegler Report recommended that a functional electoral body be constituted at least a year before the election and with barely 13 months to go the window is quickly closing.

“There is an unresolved issue about the use of technology in the election, about the Supreme Court findings as well as the challenges that were noted with the KIEMS kits…the country is yet to discuss on what technology will be used,” added Mr. Odhiambo.

He agrees that concerns over the full in-tray that awaits IEBC are valid. With voter registration yet to be done and with the push for a referendum ahead of the next general elections, he says the commission needs to put its house in order.

IEBC, in its post-2017 election review, noted that the issue of electronic voting needed to be reviewed, after the kits failed in certain parts of the country leading to the commission being accused of bungling the election.

“The elephant in the room in the Supreme Court in 2017 was the manner in which we handled the results…but the truth of the matter is that a lot needs to be done if this country needs to hold a credible 2022 election,” stated Mr. Odhiambo.

Former leader of majority in the National Assembly Aden Duale implored the Selection Panel to fast track the exercise and ensure fairness.

“IEBC must be fast-tracked…we want the four commissioners to be put in place as soon as possible so that they join their colleagues and start preparing the infrastructure for 2022 elections,” said Duale.

The selection panel will conduct the interviews between July 7-22. Among other considerations, the panel will have to take into account ethnic and regional balance and the gender questions since the commission as currently constituted has three commissioners all who are male.