You will recall that from inception of the current electoral reforms, the government position was that the law must be followed. Subsequently the National Assembly agreed on the removal process for the current IEBC Commissioners as well as a process of establishing another one to carry out reforms and deliver a credible free and fair election in August 2017. This was the foundation of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act (2016). That law prescribed the process by which new commissioners and a new Chair would be chosen.
Among other things, the law required the President to, within 14 days of the IEBC commissioners’ and Chairperson posts being vacated, constitute a selection panel of 9 persons from agreed upon organizations. The IEBC commissioners duly forwarded their resignations paving way for the prescribed reforms and panel was duly constituted and sworn in. Vacancies in the commission were advertised and the deadline for applications was 7th November 2016.
Subsequently, the selection panel received 778 applications: 13 of whom applied for the position of Chairperson and 765 of whom applied for the six commissioner posts. The large number of applications necessitated that the process of reviewing and shortlisting necessarily be extended slightly to allow for a thorough process. Of the 765 commissioner applicants, 31 were shortlisted for interview. Of the 13 Chairperson applicants, 5 were shortlisted for interview.
A list indicating the names of all candidates and their qualification was published on 15th November 2016, and the public was invited to air any concerns or issues they had with any of the listed applications by 29th November 2016. The interviews were to be held from December 1st – 15th December 2016.
Due to various concerns on the suitability of the shortlisted candidates and time constraints, the selection panel revoked these particular candidates and re-advertised the position of chairperson on 26th November 2016, thus pushing forward the interviewing dates.
The government has taken the re-advertisement of the Chair position as a sign of the panel’s commitment to finding the right candidates and sensitivity to public opinion. The government notes that the Selection Panel has acted with wisdom to forestall a situation where they end up with a candidate who will finally not elicit public confidence required of this position. The government also appreciates and encourages the high level of public interest and participation shown on this critical matter.
The government therefore supports the selection panel on consideration that it would be better to wait a little longer if this will guarantee the appointment of unequivocally qualified and credible chair than to rush to select a Chairperson, only to have their Chairmanship/Chairwomanship disputed or revoked at a later date for reasons that could have easily been avoided. Thus, while a quick process is necessary and desirable at this point, a thorough process is absolutely imperative. We wish the public to note that:
- The process of recruiting commissioners continues to follow constitutional provisions and the law.
- Government remains confident in the selection Panel’s ability to carry out its mandate; and calls on all persons of goodwill to offer this panel the moral support, freedom and leverage it needs to deliver. Undue criticism of the panel will only serve to limit their freedom of judgment and hence the capacity to give Kenyans the quality of a Commission they deserve and will be confident in. This panel reflects the shared ambition of Kenyans to have a competent IEBC and a credible election in August 2017.
- The Government has consistently maintained its commitment to having elections in August 2017 and anything said to the contrary is blatantly false. We also urge the secretariat to note the limited time in which the IEBC must accomplish the pre-election processes including voter registration, auditing of voter register, procurement of technology and infrastructure for carrying out the elections etc.
- The Government wishes to encourage the selection panel to continue working hard with dedication and integrity. Once again we reiterate the Government’s commitment to fully support the entire process.
Finally the government has noted with lots of concern the rise of primitive and criminal behavior by politicians in the recent past. Grown up politicians have been splashed in the media committing assault and taking part in affray i.e. taking part in public fights.
We wish to inform all Kenyans that political opposition to any individual is not a crime and every person is free to vie for any political position in this country. However this must be done with decorum and within the law. We also urge the police to move with speed, and arrest any person involved regardless of their political affiliation. On the other hand we expect all parties and other person of good will to condemn any conduct suggesting that violence is a desirable political tactic even remotely.