Ruto appoints selection panel for recruitment of new IEBC chair, commissioners

President William Ruto. | FILE/PCS

President William Ruto has appointed the selection panel for the recruitment of the nominees for appointment as the Chairperson and members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Through a Gazette Notice dated February 27, 2023, Ruto appointed a seven-member selection panel, two weeks after he declared vacancies at the electoral body, paving the way for the recruitment of new commissioners.

The Head of State picked Bethuel Sugut, Novince Euralia Atieno, Charity S. Kisotu, Evans Misati James, Benson Ngugi Njeri, Nelson Makanda and Fatuma Saman to lead the exercise.

“In exercise of the powers conferred by section 7A of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act, 2011 (the Act), as read with Paragraph 1 (2) of the First Schedule to the Act, I, William Samoei Ruto, President and Commander-in-Chief of the Kenya Defence Forces appoint… to be members of the Selection Panel for the Recruitment of Nominees for Appointment as the Chairperson and Members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission,” Ruto said.

Last month, the head of state signed the IEBC (Amendment) Bill 2022 into law setting the stage for the formation of the seven-member selection panel to recruit the new commissioners.

The Selection Panel was now required to have representatives of the Parliamentary Service Commission, the Public Service Commission (PSC), the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC), the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), and the Inter-Religious Council of Kenya.

The Bill passed saw the Parliamentary Service Commission and the Inter-religious Council of Kenya allocated two members (a man and a woman) each while the PSC, PPLC and LSK had one member nominated to the panel.

Monday’s appointment came hours after the tribunal formed to consider the petition for removal of Juliana Cherera, Francis Wanderi, Irene Masit and Justus Nyang’aya from office as members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) tabled its report to the president.

The Justice Aggrey Mucheule-led tribunal noted that the concerns of serious violations of the Constitution during electoral period against the four commissioners had been proven.

Cherera – the former IEBC Vice-chair – together with Wanderi, Masit and Nyang’aya disputed the presidential election results declared by the IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati on August 15, citing “opaqueness” in the manner they were arrived at.

After the Supreme Court later upheld the elections, petitions were filed challenging their suitability to hold office.

And although the probe was initially targeting all four commissioners now labelled the ‘Cherera four’, Masit’s colleagues all resigned before the hearings started, leaving her to face the tribunal.

According to the Mucheule-led panel, Masit, who has been suspended from the commission pending determination of the petitions, agreed to a proposal by Raila Odinga’s Azimio La Umoja-One Kenya coalition agents to moderate the presidential election results and force a re-run.

“The Commissioner agreed with the request by the delegation that they needed to interfere with the result by either declaring Baba as the winner or in the alternative they be moderated to allow for a rerun. They threatened that if that was not done the country would be plunged into chaos,” read the report.

“The actions by Commissioner Irene Masit clearly show that she was amenable to improper influence and that she could not be trusted to be an impartial and neutral arbiter. Once again, she was guilty of gross misconduct,” the tribunal added.


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