Jubilee want to influence choice of IEBC chair, MPs claim

ODM Secretary General Agnes Zani and Chairman John Mbadi during a past party function at Orange House. MPs allied to the party among them Mr Mbadi claim Jubilee is working to influence the choice of who becomes IEBC chairperson.

The ruling Jubilee coalition is planning to derail the selection of new commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) so as to ensure the outgoing bosses preside over next year’s general election, opposition MPs have claimed.

MPs allied to the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have told X-News in separate interviews that they believe the government has put in place a scheme to slow down the recruitment process of new commissioners.

Their claims are anchored on demands early this week by Jubilee MP Johnson Sakaja that the IEBC selection panel re-advertises the position of chairman for more people to apply.

The panel chaired by Bernedette Musundi has already shortlisted five candidates for the position with interviews set for next week.

“Although we are not casting doubts on the qualifications of the already shortlisted candidates, we want the IEBC selection panel to re-advertise the position once more. So that willing Kenyans can apply for this job in numbers,” Sakaja said.

But his colleagues are now reading a sinister move behind the demands.

“I think there is a plan by Jubilee to prolong the life of the current electoral commissioners who by the way are in office illegally since they were supposed to exit by end of September,” ODM chairman John Mbadi said.

The Suba MP claimed the plan is to slow down the recruitment process so that when the new commissioners are finally appointed, Jubilee will argue that they are not well prepared to handle the general elections hence demands for postponement of elections.

Instead, they asked Mr Sakaja to point out a particular nominee with whom he has a problem.

Kitutu Masaba MP Timothy Bosire said Jubilee did not like the idea of bringing in new commissioners hence they have been very slow to embrace the restructuring at the electoral commission.

Bosire cited President Uhuru Kenyatta delay in signing the new elections amendment Bill as part of the wider scheme.

He asked outgoing IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan and his team to pack and leave saying they are in office illegally.

“Once a person resigns he ceases to have any authority to carry out any official duty of that organisation, but the commissioners have been conducting official duties including awarding of tenders of election material which is very critical,” Bosire said.

“The Jubilee government is not keen for this country to have elections in August, they are creating a situation for altercations so as to have a good excuse to bring a bill to parliament seeking postponement of the election date,” he added.

His sentiments were echoed by Ugunja’s Opiyo Wandayi.

“I read mischief in the rejection of the list by Jubilee government. They are used to the status quo, a system and individuals which they can easily manipulate,” Wandayi said.

Homa Bay Town’s Peter Kaluma asked the government to stop interfering with a process that was well negotiated by Siaya senator James Orengo and his Meru counterpart Kiraitu Murungi.

“The people of Kenya cannot be held by the wishes of Jubilee leaders, the position was advertised and qualified candidates were shortlisted, what else the Jubilee government wants,” he posed.

The five shortlisted candidates are David Mukii Mereka, Roseline Odhiambo-Odede, John Mutakha Kangu, Margaret Wambui Ngugi Shava and David Malakwen Kiprop.

While the five are all qualified candidates, analysts believe they are likely not to be wholly embraced by Kenyans because of their ethnicity.

Roseline Odhiambo Odede, who was a member of the now defunct Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board, hails from Kisumu County which is the political bedrock of opposition chief Raila Odinga.

Margaret Wambui Ngugi Shava, a former commissioner with defunct Truth Justice and Reconciliation Commission and David Mukii Mereka both hail from Kiambu and Muranga counties respectively, two regions considered to be President Uhuru Kenyatta’s political backyard.

Their affiliation with the President’s ethnic community will automatically eclipse them from the race, analysts opine.

Advocate David Kiprop Malakwen hails from Nandi County, the political stronghold of Deputy President William Ruto.

That leaves devolution expert Mutakha Kangu ahead of the pack in terms of regional considerations. Dr Kangu is a native of Kakamega County.

But political commentator Martin Andati believes his association with former Prime Minister Raila Odinga could hinder his chances of becoming the next IEBC chairman.

While Sakaja did not mention these issues, Andati believe the factors shall play a key role in determining who succeeds Isaack Hassan.

“Regional, political and ethnic considerations will be key in selecting who becomes next chair of the commission. Kangu is the best bet for the job, however, for the reasons I gave it may slip off his hands,” he explained.

“The Chairperson position must be held by a person who inspires confidence among Kenyans,” Sakaja held.

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