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IEBC chair backs downsizing of commissioners

Mercy Mwai @wangumarci

The head of the country’s electoral body now wants the number of commissioners reduced to five from the current seven.

Consequently, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati is pushing for the amendment of the law to provide that positions emanating from resignation of commissioners be declared automatically vacant if the President fails to do so within seven days.

He also wants MPs to amend the law to set the number of quorum for commissioners at a minimum of three to help the agency transact business.

Appearing before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) of the National Assembly, Chebukati told MPs that despite the commission remaining with only three members they had carried out their mandate.

He cited India which has three commissioners with a population of 900 million people, New Zealand three commissioners since 1968 and Canada one commissioner.

While insisting that IEBC is properly constituted at the moment, Chebukati said a lean commission is easy to manage as members understand each other.

Make resolutions

He cited his status presently with two commissioners with whom they have been able to hold meetings and execute other major challenges in spite of gender representation disparity.

His statement comes at a time when the commission has been operating with Chebukati as chairperson and commissioners, Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye as members.

The void was created by the resignation of the commission’s vice chairperson Connie Nkatha Maina and commissioners Margaret Mwachanya and Paul Kurgat in April last year. Commissioner Roselyn Akombe had quit earlier.

“If we look in terms of numbers, I believe we do not need to be seven, a maximum of five commissioners is okay,” he said.

“As commissioners we carry out our mandate without fear or favour. In terms of operations, we have no doubt that we are properly constituted.”

On replacement of commissioners, he said there are need for the matter to be addressed to cure the current challenge where commissioners resigned but are replaced one year later.

Chebukati told MPs that there is need to legislate quorum as there are loopholes in the law as to what happens when commissioners resign.

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