Cord seeks major changes in elections, overhaul of IEBC

0
479

Coalition for Reform and Democracy (Cord) wants to give senators more powers, put governors in charge of some security duties and change the way elections are run.

In proposals contained in the draft Constitution Amendment Bill, the opposition coalition wants political parties to appoint members to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) based on their strength in Parliament.

It is also proposing that the Senate be given powers to vet appointments to constitutional commissions and county governments to be given some powers over security in their regions.

The Bill, presented to the IEBC on Monday in the quest for a referendum, also contained some sweeteners for ward representatives, whom Cord proposes to give control of a proposed Ward Fund.

The Bill has also proposed to institutionalise the Constituency Development Fund to be managed by members of the National Assembly.

Earlier in the year, a court declared the fund unconstitutional, but gave the House time to correct the anomaly.

Both ward reps and MPs are critical to the success of the next steps in a referendum as the process must be endorsed by at least 25 county assemblies, the National Assembly and Senate.

If one of the Houses rejects the Bill, then it will be subjected to a referendum.

On Monday, Okoa Kenya proponents also presented booklets containing 1.4 million signatures to start the process of the constitutional amendment.

Cord leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula and Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua asked IEBC to act quickly on the Bill, which the electoral agency is required to scrutinise and pass to counties, which will be expected to debate and vote on it within three months.

NOMINEE GAZETTEMENT
Among the proposals in the 23-page document is providing a role for the Senate in the appointment of the Director of Public Prosecutions, the Chief Justice and his/her deputy and the chairperson of the Commission on Revenue Allocation.

Only the National Assembly plays a role in these appointments at present.

Once the nominees are approved, their names are forwarded to the President, who then makes the appointments.

The Senate, which has been in a constant power struggle with the National Assembly, will also have a say in approving the appointment of the Controller of Budget, Auditor-General and the chairperson and vice chairperson of the Public Service Commission.

The IEBC is also set for radical changes, with proposals that commissioners be nominated by political parties.

Such nominees should then be gazetted by the President within seven days of receiving their names and the commissioners, not exceeding five, shall elect a chairperson from among themselves.

The Bill also proposes that there be established an electronic national voter register which will be the only one to be used during elections.

The Bill seeks to make it the electoral commission’s responsibility to ensure at least 80 per cent of eligible voters are registered.

“The amendment (of article 83) enhances accountability and the management of the electoral process in Kenya and removing any loopholes which may make the voter registration process suffer legitimacy confidence,” the Bill says.

“It also imposes a duty on the commission to maintain only one single national register of voters and a requirement to adopt an electronic voter registration system that is simple, accurate verifiable and accountable.”

These are some of the questions that Cord had raised in its petition challenging the election of Mr Uhuru Kenyatta as President after the 2013 election.

Other proposed changes are on the inauguration of a new President — which could be delayed for up to 60 days if an election is challenged.

And to avoid the situation face by Mr Odinga’s legal team, which was barred from giving new evidence during its petition, the amendments will allow those challenging a presidential election to file new evidence until the hearing starts.

The voters register will be published in the official Kenya Gazette at least 90 days before the General Election, while in the case of a by-election the register for the ward or constituency will be published 30 days before the vote.

KEY INTRODUCTIONS

Political parties would have access to names and addresses of newly registered voters every year, according to the Bill.

The minimum amount given to county governments will be increased from the present minimum of 15 per cent to 45 per cent.

The national government has in the past argued that it had raised the amount to 35 per cent.

Other proposals include the introduction of the Ward Development Fund, which should be five per cent of total revenue allocated to a county, formation of the County Security Advisory Council at the county level with governors and wananchi represented to strengthen security and that 30 per cent of all public appointments be set aside for marginalised communities.

Okoa Kenya Committee of Experts chairman Paul Mwangi handed over a copy of the draft Bill and a booklet containing the signatures to IEBC Vice-Chairperson Lillian Mahiri-Zaja.

Cord leaders said the document would herald a “historical moment” where Kenyans will get a chance to make changes to the Constitution promulgated five years ago.

IEBC is expected to verify the signatures to certify that the initiative is supported by at least one million voters, a process that will take three months.

Should the commission be satisfied that the initiative meets the constitutional threshold, it will then submit the draft Bill to the 47 county assemblies for consideration with the debate supposed to take another three months.

According to Article 257 of the Constitution, if a draft Bill has been approved by a majority of the county assemblies, it shall be introduced in Parliament without delay.

During the presentation of the Bill and signatures, Mr Odinga said: “We have now handed the ball over to IEBC, it is now upon them to kick the ball to the county assemblies to debate the Bill.”

NO COMMENTS

LEAVE A REPLY