The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission now want more powers to enable it determine candidates’ suitability to participate in polls.
Commission Chair Wafula Chebukati said a lot of electoral illegalities among politicians were going unpunished, yet current laws have tied the hands of the commission, a situation which compromises the country’s leadership.
According to Chebukati, some sections of the laws were providing fodder for the illegalities, making it difficult for the commission to function effectively.
He said the enforcement of the Chapter Six of the Constitution which deals with leadership and integrity remains a grey area, following constitutional provisions which make it difficult to implement.
“Remember in Kenya, if you are charged with an offense or suspected of having committed an offense, you are innocent until proven guilty. And even if you are committed and you file an appeal, you are innocent until your appeal is determined,” said Chebukati.
The IEBC chair termed such provisions as bottle necks which clip the wings of the commission, hence making it difficult to stem electoral illegalities. He said a legal framework would help solve the puzzle.
In the last general election, Chebukati said the commission only managed to bar two out of over 100 candidates accused of electoral malpractices.
And to avoid clashing with the constitution which provides for right to fair trial, Chebukati has called on the stakeholders to quickly consider empowering the commission through legal framework in order to restore order in the country’s electoral environment.
“I remember a case in point where a prisoner who had been convicted and had an appeal came up and wanted to run for a position. We want the law to be looked at so that the commission can be given upper hand in determining who to participate in the election,” he said.
Chebukati was speaking in Kisumu during the Post-Election Evaluation of the 2017 general election for the regional cluster. The evaluation which marks the final stage of the electoral cycle brought commission staffs from eight counties from Nyanza and Western regions.
The process is aimed at reviewing the pre and post-election activities to come up with improved election framework, and is also being undertaken in other clusters which include; Eldoret, Embu, Meru, Mombasa and Nairobi.
The report will be subjected to stakeholders for discussions and ratification to inform future policies and legal framework.
And Chebukati said the proposal for more powers will be included in the evaluation report, which will in turn be discussed in various levels before it can be put into law to enhance better management of elections.
Meanwhile, Chebukati reassured that the commission was smoothly functioning despite the challenges facing it, following the resignation of four commissioners and the suspension of CEO Ezra Chiloba. He dismissed any hitches, saying such were public perceptions.
“The commission is up and running. The constitution provides that at least three commissioners can run the commission,” he said.
He however expressed reluctance in addition constituencies in the forthcoming boundary review, saying the constitution provides for 290 constituencies, unless tKenyans want to change the figure.
He noted that politicians have already commenced the discussions over the boundary review, but noted that the commission was ready and committed to discuss with relevant entities to ensure that the boundary issue is sorted.