The operations of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) have stalled since the three commissioners who quit last month have not been replaced.
Following the resignations of commissioners Consolata Nkatha, Paul Kurgat, and Margaret Mwachanya, as well as that of Dr Roselyn Akombe last October, the IEBC cannot hold a plenary session with only Chairman Wafula Chebukati, and commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu.
Mr Chebukati, in court filings to support a case in which activist Okiya Omtatah wants them left in office, said that he had not received the resignation letters of the three commissioners and could only assume that they have absconded from duty.
But in response, the trio said they had written to the President on April 16 informing him of their resignations, as required by law.
Replacements for the three must be found for the IEBC to function, but it might be a while because of legal loopholes. For instance while the law requires the President to announce any vacancy in the IEBC seven days after it occurs, it does not spell out when the seven days begin, as is evident from the current case.
Then there is the lack of a mechanism for selecting a new panel to recruit the new commissioners which, according to Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jr, is an excuse.
It is notable that in response to Mr Chebukati’s remark that they had absconded from duty the three commissioners who resigned last month have said: “As far as we are concerned, we have resigned as commissioners, but our resignation is yet to be officially communicated and no vacancy has been declared. It cannot, therefore, be said we are the reason recruitment has not commenced. The inference is factually and legally incorrect.”
In a bid to plug the loophole, and provide a mechanism for recruiting their replacements once the president declares the vacancies, Parliament is reviewing the IEBC Act.
“As the House goes on recess, the committee will be looking at the various proposals for amending the IEBC Act to provide for the process of naming and forming a selection panel to interview potential IEBC commissioners who will need to be approved by Parliament before being appointed by the President,” said Mr William Cheptumo, the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman.
Last month, National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale gave the Cheptumo-led committee 50 days to amend the relevant laws.