Wednesday, 20 July 2011
BY ISAAC ONGIRI, NZAU MUSAU AND FRANCIS MUREITHI
THE delay in publishing of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act appears to be part of a plot to delay the 2012 presidential elections by at least five months. Key government functionaries apparently want to scuttle the timelines set by the constitution to make it impossible for the IEBC to conduct elections on August 14, 2012.
They apparently would prefer the election to be in December 2012 or even in early 2013. In that way the current Parliament will have served its five-year term in full. Initially the office of the Attorney General delayed for several weeks submitting the IEBC Bill to President Kibaki for signature.
Then, Government Printer Andrew Rukaria, who works under the Office of the President, further delayed publishing the Bill until Monday, just a day before the expiry of the 14 days given to President Kibaki to appoint a selection panel to recruit the new commissioners. The constitution requires that 80 new constituencies must be created at least 12 months before the general election.
The new electoral commission has to be selected and constituted, and then delimit the 80 new constituencies before August 14. Otherwise the 2012 elections may have to be postponed. Yesterday, furious MPs summoned the Government Printer over his delay in publishing the IEBC Act. The MPs threatened to sidestep the Cabinet in drafting and introducing key bills in Parliament.
Members of the Constitution Implementation Committee yesterday met Attorney General Amos Wako and Justice minister Mutula Kilonzo. They accused the government of using delaying tactics to scuttle full implementation of the constitution. The committee, chaired by Mandera Central MP Abdikadir Mohammed, said it will meet the Government Printer tomorrow afternoon to demand an explanation on why his office delayed publishing the Bill and thereby created a potential constitutional crisis.
Mutula admitted to the MPs that some forces want to delay implementation of the constitution for their personal interests. “I am totally convinced that this is resistance to constitutional implementation,” he said and described the conduct of Rukaria as “odd”. “We need to know who the actual saboteurs are. It is our duty to name and shame them so that the public knows the enemies of the Constitution,” Mutula added.
Committee member Ababu Namwamba said government had tarnished the image of Parliament. “Parliament has been pilloried in public. We are painted as if we’re the institution that is delaying the timetable yet we cannot implement it outside the Constitution,” said Ababu. “What we need to do is get them (Cabinet) out of the system,” said nominated MP Rachel Shebesh.
Yesterday, Wako again claimed that he did not immediately receive the IEBC Bill after it was passed by Parliament and blamed the Clerk of the National Assembly for the delay. Various political forces want the formation of the IEBC delayed until after mid-August so that it cannot complete its boundary review 12 months before August next year when elections are supposed to be held. This, according to insiders, will give a perfect reason to postpone the 2012 elections. Article 89 (2) of the constitution says delimitation must be completed at least 12 months before a general election.
However, Mutula yesterday said this would backfire. He explained that Article 27 (3) of the transitional clauses exempts the 12 months rule as far as 2012 elections are concerned. “It’s completely ridiculous and if you ask me, superstitious,” Mutula said. “I don’t know what other people are planning but I am a Christian. I know if they are (making) evil plans, God will punish them.”
Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo said some government insiders are unhappy with the constituencies created in the Coast, North Eastern, Rift Valley and Nairobi. “There are people who are out to slow down the process of putting in place the new commission to ensure that the controversy over the new constituencies is not resolved,” Midiwo said. “The best way is to deal with the Government Printer Andrew Rukaria who is being used to undermine the implementation by people out to create an artificial crisis ahead of the elections,” he said.
Top-level government officials allegedly met at the Office of the President two months ago and agreed to slow down the electoral legislation to force a crisis ahead of the 2012 elections. Some government insiders are unhappy with the balance of powers between the electoral commissioners and the electoral commission secretariat under the new act. Ndaragwa MP Jeremiah Kioni admitted that there could people scheming to scuttle the 2012 elections.
But he insisted that areas of conflict must be resolved in legislation for implementation of the new constitution. Kioni said some people are uncomfortable with demands not to vet Commission Secretary James Oswago. “The electoral commission is a serious national organ and we must subject Oswago to thorough vetting. After that things will flow,” Kioni said. “The behavior we are seeing is a manifestation of a plan to interfere with the electoral process. It is important that issues arising are thrashed out in time,” said Cherengany MP Joshua Kuttuny.
He called on President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to rescue the nation from saboteurs. “But you may find that it is Kibaki who wants to stay on beyond the set limit, or Raila who wants to have his term to the last day,” Kuttuny sai. Ainamoi MP Benjamin Langat said that anxiety over the election date needs to be cleared quickly. “What the Government Printer has been doing is funny. It is important that the game doesn’t turn nasty,” Langat said.