The High Court on Wednesday ordered the Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel to immediately commence the process of replacing the vacant chairperson and commissioner positions at the electoral body.
While delivering her ruling, Justice Thande Mugure observed that although the process is somewhat political, failure to immediately start the process risks plunging the country into a constitutional crisis.
One of the conundrums at the moment is whether the commission, as currently constituted, can conduct a by-election. Prompt selection and vetting of the new officials will see the commission conduct by-elections in areas whose leaders have ceased to hold office.
A photo of the statue outside the Nairobi Law Courts
One area that will benefit from the commission’s full constitution is Banissa constituency, whose MP died in 2023 after being hit by a speeding vehicle.
Meanwhile, another reason to call for the prompt selection of commissioners is that the scheduled date for the review of constituency boundaries is fast approaching but the commission is in disarray. According to the Constitution, the review should be conducted no later than March 2024.
IEBC’s top jobs were left vacant after a section of the commissioners resigned while others retired. The former chairperson, Wafula Chebukati retired.
His counterparts Boya Molu and Abdi Guliye retired in January 2023 while Juliana Cherera, Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Francis Wanderi resigned in December 2022.
Efforts to appoint new commissioners have been met with opposition from Azimio party leader Raila Odinga.
Raila complained that Ruto may appoint partisan commissioners. As such, he called for reconstitution of the selection panel.
However, President Ruto in February 2023 appointed a selection panel comprising of seven members. His move was challenged by the opposition.
After the formation of the National Dialogue Committee (NADCO), the opposition and Kenya Kwanza finally agreed on the reconstruction of the panel.
The team led by Wiper Party leader Kalonzo Musyoka and Kikuyu Member of Parliament Kimani Ichung’wah also agreed to audit the results of the 2022 presidential elections.
Wiper leader Kalonzo Musyoka (left) and his NADCO co-chair Kimani Ichung’wah display the bipartisan talks recommendations.