Election body shuffles staff ahead of 2012

Sunday November 27 2011

IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago (right) and National Democratic Institute country director Mary O’Hagan at a recent meeting in Nairobi. The commission has reshuffled 17 regional election coordinators as it prepares for polls next year. Photo/FILE

IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago (right) and National Democratic Institute country director Mary O’Hagan at a recent meeting in Nairobi. The commission has reshuffled 17 regional election coordinators as it prepares for polls next year. Photo/FILE 

By PATRICK MAYOYO [email protected]

The electoral commission has reshuffled 17 regional election coordinators as it prepares for polls next year.

They were informed of their transfers last week and ordered to report to their new stations in two weeks.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) acting chief executive, Mr James Oswago, declined to comment and instead referred the Nation to chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan. (Read: Polls commission tense over chief officer’s post)

IEBC public relations manager, Ms Tabitha Mutemi, confirmed the changes which she termed normal.

“The transfers are normal and meant to ensure that no election official serves in a region where they come from,” she said.

Ms Mutemi said constituency election coordinators would also be transferred.

“The regional election coordinators have been given two weeks to report to their new stations after the new commissioners have reported in their areas,” she said.

The transfers follow a decision by the commission last week to review Mr Oswago’s contract, barely a fortnight after President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga appointed the commissioners.

Competitive recruitment

Mr Oswago is to serve in an acting capacity for three months from November 18, pending competitive recruitment of a new chief executive.

He was hired two years ago on a seven-year contract to lead the secretariat of the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) which replaced the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

The new polls team was appointed on November 10, to start preparing for the 2012 General Election.

Other members of IEBC include Dr Yusuf Nzibo, Mr Mohamed Alawi Hussun, Mr Abdullahi Sharawe, Ms Lilian Bokeeye, Mr Thomas Letangule, Ms Joyce Wangai, Mr Albert Bwire and Ms Kule Galma Godana.

The team is also expected to create 80 new constituencies before the next elections.

Just before the IEBC was constituted, differences emerged in the IIEC resulting in the suspension of Mr Oswago’s personal assistant, Mr Allan Odongo.

The officer was accused of leading a smear campaign against some commissioners after offensive articles were found on his laptop.

Mr Hassan recalled Mr Oswago from an overseas trip and referred the claims of corruption and nepotism at institution to the Kenya Anti-Corruption Commission.

The agency is yet to release its findings.

But Mr Odongo disowned the articles in a letter to the chairman, and questioned the logic of suspending him without pay.

“A word document titled ‘Seven Facts You Did Not Know about IIEC’ and which was found on my office laptop was given to me, together with other materials, from another source. Please note that the said documents alleged to have been found on my laptop are common documents circulating around in the media houses and a section of the civil society,” Mr Odongo stated then.