Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Hassan nominated as IEBC chair

Kibaki,Raila settle on Isaack to head IEBC
By BERNARD NAMUNANE bnamunane@ke.nationmedia.com AND JOHN NGIRACHU jngirachu@ke.nationmedia.com

Interim Independent Electoral Commission boss Isaack Hassan has edged closer to chairing the team that will supervise the first General Election under the new Constitution.

Mr Hassan now has only Parliament between him and the chairmanship of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) after he was picked by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga as their nominee for the hot seat.

The selection panel, led by Dr Ekuru Aukot, had also submitted the names of election specialist Koki Muli and that of former Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission member Murshid Mohammed.

On Tuesday, National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende forwarded Mr Hassan’s name and those of eight other nominees, for commissioners in the new team, to the parliamentary Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee for vetting.

“The committee has until November 3 to consider the names and bring their report to the floor of the House,” Mr Marende said.

President Kibaki and Mr Odinga nominated Yusuf Nzibo, Mohamed Alawi Hussun, Abdullahi Sharawe, Lilian Mahiri-Zaja, Thomas Letangule, Muthoni Wangai, Albert Bwire and Kule Galma Godana to fill the eight positions of commissioners.

The move accelerated the pace for setting up of the elections team, which has a short time to prepare for the next elections whose exact date is still in contention. (READ: Khalwale: We will reject poll date change)

While the Constitution states that the elections should be held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year (August 14, 2012), the Cabinet has submitted a motion to amend the date to the third Monday in December in every fifth year ( December 17, 2012).

The team also faces the challenge of creating 80 new constituencies based on the report that was prepared by the defunct commission and creating a new voters’ roll to reflect the increase in constituencies from 210 to 290.

They, however, have the comfort of a fully functioning secretariat led by Mr James Oswago.

MPs cheered when the Speaker read out Mr Hassan’s name. This, perhaps, is from the way he has managed more than 10 by-elections and last year’s referendum on the Constitution. (READ: Faces behind Kenya law review process)

Dr Aukot said that Mr Hassan, who has chaired the electoral commission since 2009, scored the highest marks during the interviews for the position of chairman.

The oversight committee, chaired by Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohamed, is required to conclude its vetting by November 3 even though the Act gives it 14 days to act.

MPs, similarly, will have 14 days to debate and either approve or reject the names of the nominees.

True to the requirements of the Constitution, only Mr Hassan and Dr Nzibo have been retained in the proposed team to supervise the next elections. From the disbanded team, only Mr Sharawe has been retained.

While submitting the names to President Kibaki and Mr Odinga on Monday last week, Dr Aukot said they considered both continuity and equality of opportunities. (READ: Panel selects three for IEBC chair)

Others whose names were submitted to the President and PM were Mr Jotham Arwa, Mr Joshua Wambua, Ms Jedidah Ntoyai, Mr James Mwangi and Mr Lawrence Nyalle.

A total of 430 Kenyans had applied for the eight jobs.

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