LSK wars derail nomination of electoral team

Friday, April 23rd, 2021 00:00 |
Law Society of Kenya President Nelson Havi.

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

The process of filling four vacant positions at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has run into headwinds after a standoff rocked the process of nomination to the selection panel.

Wrangles have hit the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), which is one of the bodies mandated to nominate one of the panelists, after two factions presented a candidate each.

The Parliamentary Service Commission (PSC) and Inter-Religious Council of Kenya (IRCK) are the other two institutions which have slots at the seven-member selection panel.

According to IEBC (Amendment) Act, 2020, PSC submits four names, while LSK and the inter-religious council will nominate one and two members respectively.

The PSC will then forward the names of the nominees to the President for appointment and gazettement.

Parallel letters

But the power struggle among the leadership of LSK council and discontent among the membership of the inter religious council is threatening to derail the recruitment process of the team that will oversee 2022 elections and a possible referendum under the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

LSK’s council factions, one led by  embattled president Nelson Havi and the other by CEO Mercy Wambua, have also forwarded two parallel letters carrying different names to fill the one slot at the panel.

The religious body is also divided over two nominees to the panel presenting a delicate balance in beating the strict legal deadlines.

IRCK has picked its chairman, Reverend Father Joseph Mutie, who is also the General Secretary of Organization of African Instituted Churches (OAIC), and Abdallah Fariduun of the Shia Sect of Islam to represent them in the panel.

The choice of the duo has sparked uproar among mainstream religious groups who are demanding a review of the names.

But the council said Mutie and Fariduun represent the faiths that did not get a chance to sit in the panel that picked the Wafula Chebukati team.

“Those raising issues on the two are just but being mischievous,” IRCK added.

Wambua’s wing, which comprises of eight council members, has nominated lawyer Dorothy Jemator Kimengech to the selection panel while Havi’s faction has nominated Morris Kimuli.

Position advertised

The disagreements are a glimpse of what is likely to be a battleground for warring factions keen on the IEBC composition given the critical role it plays in managing elections.

While dismissing Havi’s nominee as “a person going nowhere,” Wambua defended Jemator’s nomination, saying after the declaration of the vacancy by the President last week, the society advertised the slot on April 16 and by the end of the April 20 deadline, at least 39 members had applied.

“The council met yesterday and considered the applications of all the 39 members and after deliberations Dorothy Jemator was picked,” Wambua told People Daily on phone.

“The nomination by Nelson Havi was done before even the announcement of vacancies by the President. They were neither advertised nor applied,” she added.

But Havi refuted Wambua’s claims, describing her as “good for nothing fellow”.

“Ms Dorothy Jemator should continue serving the Jubilee and ODM parties and the Government of Kenya in the Energy and Petroleum Tribunal; the HIV/Aids Tribunal; and the BBI Steering Committee,” he wrote on Twitter on Thursday, adding that a State officer cannot serve as an appointee of the LSK in the Selection Panel.

“She is a known agent of Jubilee and ODM parties in the cobbling of the BBI Bill. She holds two State appointments. The Government cannot impose a representative upon the Society,” the LSK President said.

Article 87 of the society’s general regulations 2020 provides that whenever a vacancy arises in any public, statutory or constitutional body that require LSK to nominate a representative, the secretary is required to advertise the vacancy, shortlisting done and a final nomination by the council made.

Council objects

“If the Society is required by legislation or otherwise to nominate a member to serve on an organ of a constitutional, statutory or other public body, the secretary shall issue notice of the vacancy and shall at the same time invite interested qualified members to apply to be considered for that position,” the regulation reads.

Section 87((2) provides that “the Council shall consider all applications received and shall make a decision on the qualified person for nomination to a relevant office.

This is not the first time the majority in the LSK council objected to what they term  as a unilateral action by its president without following the law and regulations.

In March, the council revoked several appointments that Havi had made in October last year on the grounds that he did not follow regulations.

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