By DAVID MUGONYI and BERNARD NAMUNANE
November 28 2008
The Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman on Friday gave the clearest indication that his team was ready to go home.
It follows Thursday’s announcement by the Cabinet that an interim and independent team will be formed to spearhead electoral reforms.
Mr Samuel Kivuitu said it was obvious that the Government was determined to get rid of his team of commissioners and there was little they could do.
“We will just have to go… In Africa when you are not wanted by those in power you can just be removed irrespective of the law,” a dejected Mr Kivuitu said.
He added: “There is nothing you can do if the decision is being taken by the big people… I know nobody cares about your rights if you are not wanted.”
Mr Kivuitu said the commissioners had not committed any crime to be hounded out of office “like dogs”.
His remarks seem to indicate that the commissioners have given up the fight to keep their jobs.
The ECK chief spoke as the Saturday Nation learnt that a Bill providing for the commission’s dissolution was already with the Government printer.
Sources said the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill has been given priority alongside the Waki report as issues that Parliament must debate and dispose of before MPs break for the Christmas recess.
A twin Bill – Constitution of Kenya Review Bill – that is to give Kenyans a new Constitution by June next year has already been passed by Parliament and is awaiting Presidential assent.
Gone to court
However, Mr Kivuitu said his team had not met to decide on the way forward because they were not “desperate”.
Cabinet approved plans to disband the ECK on Thursday when it agreed to create of an interim body to take over.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will spearhead reforms on elections and give confidence to the constitutional review referendum.
This happened as House Speaker Kenneth Marende ruled that courts cannot stop Parliament from making a law that could see the Kivuitu team sacked.
Mr Marende said the doctrine of separation of powers among the three arms of Government – Executive, Legislature and Judiciary – called for non-interference.
The commissioners had gone to court to stop the Government from disbanding ECK and sending them home and had obtained temporary orders barring the Government from taking any action against the commission.
However, yesterday Mr Kivuitu dismissed claims that they had gone to court to block Parliament from making law.
He said the commissioners went to court to seek an interpretation of the law on whether it was right for the commissioners to be removed from office in the manner proposed despite the Constitution laying down the ground on how they can be removed.
Section 41 of the Constitution states that the commissioners can only be removed from office through a tribunal appointed by the President. Or alternatively, they can voluntarily resign.
“The court was to tell us what is the position of our rights, as created by the Constitution… we were not blocking anybody,” the electoral commission chief added.
He said anyone could go to the courts to seek an interpretation of the law as that was the duty of the Judiciary.
But an angry Mr Kivuitu questioned why the Government was hounding them out of office “like dogs”. He said the Justice Johann Kriegler commission was not a court of law that found the commissioners guilty of any wrongdoing.
“We are entitled to ask questions because we have not been found guilty of any crime and that is why we went to court to get an interpretation,” Mr Kivuitu added.
However, he said he had always wanted to retire from his position and accepted the re-appointment ahead of last year’s elections reluctantly.
And, former Kabete MP Paul Muite has faulted the Cabinet for approving proposals to create interim bodies to take over from institutions for 15 months.
Mr Muite said the Government should reform the institutions like the ECK permanently instead of subjecting Parliament to constitutional amendments to create temporary bodies.
He asked: “Why are we amending the Constitution to create interim bodies?”
Mr Muite asked what would happen if the country does not have a new constitution within the 15 months. He said it was expensive and rigorous to have interim entities in place.
Mr Muite also questioned what type of electoral system the Cabinet approved when there were no proposals for a parliamentary or presidential or a hybrid system of Government.
Apart from an Interim Independent Electoral Commission, the Cabinet accepted proposals to create Interim Independent Boundaries Commission and an Interim Independent Constitutional Dispute Resolution Court.
The three have up to 15 months or three months following the enactment of a new constitution.
Submitted by pkasoa
Posted November 29, 2008 09:25 AM
Kivuitu team should just humbly step a side inorder for Kenya to renew their confidence with the local institutions especially the ECK. Not forgetting we need another body to spearhead the constitutional review referendum.
Submitted by aphrax
Posted November 29, 2008 08:35 AM
Kivuitu and the team are already late why do it now,i was once proud of you but then you let me down and to make it worse still in the office ...I believe consience and guilty must be over whelming your toughness to stay put....
Submitted by ronns
Posted November 29, 2008 06:18 AM
If it's sympathy mr kivuitu is looking for you are getting none. if it was my decision you would be long gone. do us a favour and resign. the only people i feel sorry for are your juniors who had no part in that fatal move you made. we have not forgotten. go home quietly and be thankful the law is not coming for you.
Submitted by Thiankolu
Posted November 29, 2008 02:30 AM
Poor Kivuitu. While I share your views on the Constitution, and there is very authoritative precedent in favour of your interpretation, you can only fault yourself. Whether or not last year's election was rigged, it is incontrovertible that you handled it in a manner falling far below the standard anticipated in the Constitution. If you take responsibility for that, everything else will just fall in place.
Submitted by wuod_aketch
Posted November 29, 2008 12:55 AM
Kiviutu is lucky that he is in Africa consequently he should stop complaining. His fate would have been worse had he been doing the shoddy job that led to the death of over 1000 Kenyans in a developed country.
Submitted by omicahnoirere
Posted November 29, 2008 12:39 AM
To many kenyans, The Current ECK was composed of Old Incompetent individuals who warshipped power and money.Kivuitu you have been in that office long enough to know that people get old and young brains is readily available to quisition your intentions. since when kenyans have to wait for 4 days to know who won prez post? That where you and Oggies failed .
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