It is a tight race against time to replace the outgoing Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) team within a two-week deadline from today.
A new IEBC chairman and commissioners must be in office by September 30, with a four-day extension allowance that ends on October 4.
The clock started ticking towards this unprecedented short schedule in the appointment of the electoral body on Wednesday evening after President Uhuru Kenyatta assented to the two electoral bills which pave way for the replacement of IEBC commissioners.
If the deadline is to be met, other bodies that are tasked with picking the new team must work round the clock to stick within schedule, leaving no room for error or delay.
Legislators who spoke yesterday, some who had been in the parliamentary joint select committee that crafted the exit of the old team and entry of a new one, said the schedule to place new commissioners in office is almost impractical, but has to be adhered to.
Senators Kipchumba Murkomen (Elgeyo Marakwet), Johnstone Muthama (Machakos) and Suna East MP Junet Mohamed generally agreed the selection of the new IEBC commissioners should start immediately to beat the September 30 deadline.
Both Mohamed and Murkomen said that, according to the timelines established by the select committee, bodies mandated to select members of a panel that would interview the new commissioners should ensure they are in place by next Monday.
“After the panel has been constituted by Monday, we expect advertisements for the positions to be out within a week and interviews held by September 26,” said Junet.
The three lawmakers said they expect the new IEBC commissioners to have been nominated and taken office by the first week of October. Murkomen said both the National Assembly and the Senate had unanimously agreed on September 30 as the deadline for the new IEBC commissioners to have taken office.
Murkomen cited a section of the report that reads: “In light of the fast-approaching date of the next General Election, the processes relating to the appointment of the new commissioners must be undertaken expeditiously and be concluded by September 30, 2016.”
The co-chair of the select committee, Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, said yesterday the decision to set the September 30 deadline was to allow the new commissioners adequate time to prepare for the 2017 election, slated for August.
The new development means the outgoing commissioners of IEBC are no longer office holders. However, an outgoing commissioner who spoke to the People Daily on condition of anonymity said they were yet to be given a send-off package as earlier indicated.
Sources within government indicated that the Attorney General, the National Treasury and the Salaries Remuneration Commission (SRC) had started meeting over the issue.
Muthama said it was upon the AG, Treasury and SRC to come up with a dignified send-off package for the commissioners as per the agreement between the joint committee and IEBC.
National Treasury Cabinet secretary Henry Rotich confirmed to Parliament last month that the payout package for the commissioners had been set aside.
On Wednesday evening, a statement by State House spokesperson Manoah Esipisu read in part, “Following the passage of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill through both Houses of Parliament, the President has assented to the same, bringing into force of law the Election Laws (Amendment) Act and the Election Offences Act that brings a broad range of Electoral Reforms.
The Act introduces a wide range of electoral reforms, including a new framework for the recruitment of IEBC Commissioners, while laying the platform for orderly exit of the current office holders.