The Evolution of the Electoral Body in Kenya
The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), now a defunct commission, was disbanded by the 10th Parliament in 2008 and replaced with the Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya (IIEC).
The old constitution provided for the ECK consisting of a chairman and a maximum of 21 members appointed by the president. Its core duties were defined by the constitution as:
- The registration of voters and the maintenance and revision of the register of voters
- Directing and supervising the Presidential, National Assembly and local government elections
- Promoting free and fair elections
- Promoting voter education throughout Kenya
The Electoral Commission of Kenya had been bestowed with the main function of supervising and overseeing the whole electoral process to ensure it was effective and efficient.
Samuel Kivuitu was the Chairman of the Commission at the time of its disbandment. He was reappointed to his post by the Kenyan President Mwai Kibaki ahead of the 2007 general election, having already been in charge during Kenya's general elections in 1997, 2002 as well as a constitutional referendum in 2005. Mr. Kivuitu had initially been appointed to the post by former president Daniel Arap Moi, replacing Mr. Zacchaeus Chesoni, who was the head of the Electoral commission during Kenya's 1992 general election.
Civil unrest in the aftermath of Kenya's 2007 presidential elections and the election anomalies reported as a result prompted the government of Kenya to completely overhaul its system of managing elections.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) was formed to replace the Electoral Commission of Kenya and was charged with the mission to institutionalize sustainable electoral processes that would guarantee free and fair elections. The team had nine commissioners. The chairman and commissioners were nominated through a competitive process by Parliament appointed by the President in consultation with the Prime Minister and sworn in on May 11, 2009.
The body was mandated to:
- Reform the electoral process management of elections and to institutionalize free and fair elections
- Establish an efficient and effective secretariat
- Promote free and fair election
- Register voters afresh and create a new voters' register
- Develop a modern system for collection, transmission and tallying of electoral data
- Conduct a referendum for a new constitution
- Facilitate the observation, monitoring evaluation of elections and referenda
- Promote voter education and culture of democracy
- Settle minor electoral disputes during an election as may be provided by law.
The IIEC had 12 months from December 24, 2009 to December 2010 to discharge its mandate. Alternatively, it would cease to exist three months after a new constitution was effected. In that case, the new constitution would provide for a permanent successor electoral body, which would take up the role of reforms.
The Commission successfully fulfilled its mandate — registered voters afresh and created a new register, conducted the referendum on the new Constitution and by-elections in Bomachoge, Shinyalu, South Mugirango, Matuga, Makadara, Starehe, Juja and Wajir South constituencies.
The commissioners serving in the IIEC were: Ahmed Issack Hassan (chairman), Simiyu Abuid Wasike, Winnie Guchu, Yusuf Nzibo, Hamara Ibrahim Adan, Ken Nyaundi, Tiyah Galgalo, Davis Chirchir and Douglas Mwashigadi
Under the dispensation of the new constitution, there is a provision for the establishment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) whose responsibilities include:
- The continuous registration of citizens as voters.
- The regular revision of the voters roll.
- The delimitation of constituencies and wards.
- The regulation of nomination of candidates by political parties.
- The settlement of electoral disputes other than petitions.
- The registration of candidates for election.
- Voter education.
- The facilitation of the observation, monitoring and evaluation of elections.
- The regulation of the amount of money that may be spent by or on behalf of a candidate or party in any election.
- The development of a code of conduct for candidates and parties contesting elections.
- Monitoring compliance with the electoral laws.
- Supervising referenda and elections to any elective body or office established by this Constitution.
- Review the number, names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of eight and twelve year
The boundaries for all the electoral areas are to be drawn by an Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The short listing of candidates for commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) kicked off where the selection panel forwarded three names for the chairperson's job, and thirteen names for commissioners to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga.The names are to be presented to parliament for approval. The IEBC is said to be unveiled soon as it is expected to conduct its first election in November during the Kitutu Masaba by-election scheduled for the November 28.