The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has cautioned against attempts to disband the Commission through the BBI ahead of the 2022 elections.
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati says, “The present agitation to disband IEBC by removing existing Commissioners and staff as well as varying their terms from 6 to 4 years and from permanent to 3 year-contract respectively, as recommended by the final BBI Report, is a continuation of this trend.”
In statement, Chebukati said the disbandment of IEBC staff and Commissioners after every contested election often leads to loss of institutional memory and instability, high turnover of the decision-making body (the Commissioners), demotivation leading to loss of competent and experienced staff.
He further pointed out that political interference is threatening the independence of the Commission both in decision making and operations.
“The nomination of Commissioners by political parties, as recommended by the BBI Report, in a country with negative ethnicity and highly competitive politics and where most parties hardly last beyond a 5-year electoral cycle, will grossly undermine the independence of the Commission,” he said.
Chebukati argues that political parties appointees will not be partisan as they only owe allegiance to their parties.
He said the use of poll officials on short term contracts to oversee elections in an ethnicized political environment will not only undermine the independence of IEBC but will also be a recipe for disaster. “Such officials will not have total loyalty to the Commission and are likely to be complacent in adhering to electoral processes and procedures.”
The Commission now demands that the current Independent expert model in appointment of the Chairperson and Commissioners of IEBC to guarantee impartiality should remain in place, as well as the current practice of hiring core professional and permanent secretariat staff for efficient, transparent and credible elections.
To enhance electoral democracy, Chebukati said there is need to address negative ethnicity and mistrust amongst political players in order to reduce high costs associated with mitigating these challenges through electoral processes.
He also called for the entrenchment in the Constitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission fund to give the Commission autonomy to manage its funds.
Chebukati said, “Electoral laws should be reviewed with a view to making them less prescriptive and to enable the commission flexibility in administrative processes and reduction in cost of elections.”
He called for more engagements between IEBC and political parties through the Political Parties Liaison Committee with a view to enhancing electoral democracy in Kenya.
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