The selection panel that submitted to President Uhuru Kenyatta nominees for chairman and commissioners of the new-look electoral commission has defended its choices amid growing criticism.
Bernadette Musundi, the chairperson of the nine-member panel, in a statement, backed the team's choice for the position of chairman, Wafula Chebukati, who the Opposition has said was not the top candidate in the interviews and therefore does not merit the position.
The President has been faulted for leaving out Tukero ole Kina, who was widely viewed as the appropriate nominee for the chairman’s post.
The choice has also raised eyebrows, given that Mr Chebukati comes from the same county — Trans Nzoia — as Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba.
The choice of nominee for commissioner, Consolata Nkatha Bucha Maina, who is among five others picked for the same position, has equally drawn criticism over alleged regional imbalance.
Other nominees are Boya Molu, Roselyn Akombe, Paul Kurgat, Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya and Abdi Guliye as commissioners.
“There have been various allegations concerning the suitability or otherwise of Mr Wafula Chebukati and Ms Consolata Nkatha Bucha Maina for appointment to the positions of chairperson and member of the IEBC, respectively.
"The panel wishes to state that these allegations were not brought to the attention of the Selection Panel by any person and were, therefore, not in the knowledge of the panel during the selection process,” says the press statement.
Mrs Musundi cited the elaborate process and openness in recruiting the nominees, including publishing the long and short lists of those that had qualified to proceed to the various stages of the interviews.
This included giving the public seven days to submit information they might have had regarding the candidates.
The panel comprised mostly religious leaders, Jubilee and Cord representatives, as well as a secretariat provided by the Public Service Commission.
Meanwhile, Rarieda MP Nicolas Gumbo has accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of sidelining qualified people from the Nyanza region in the nomination of candidates to replace the outgoing IEBC chiefs.
On Tuesday, Mr Gumbo said he would oppose the list when it is tabled in Parliament for debate.
The MP, who is also the chairman of the National Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee, said he read mischief in the nominations.
“Tribalism is bad either applied forwards or backwards. I want to be told why whenever an electoral commission is formed, people are uncomfortable with individuals from Luo Nyanza taking up positions in it,” said Mr Gumbo.
The MP spoke at Rarieda Primary School during the annual constituency inter-denominational prayers.
But speaking to journalists in Garissa Town on Tuesday, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said the House might be recalled for a one-day special sitting to discuss the IEBC nominees.
Mr Duale said when the Speaker receives the names of nominees from the President, he will send them to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
“We expect by tomorrow (Wednesday) or the day after the Speaker to communicate that information to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee.
"We anticipate that the Speaker will recall the House for a one-day special sitting around January 18, so that the House can either adopt or reject the reports,” he said.
By forwarding the names to Parliament, President Kenyatta has approved the nominees and only vetting by the MPs remains.
Reported by John Njagi, Nelcon Odhiambo and Abdimalik Hajir.