Wednesday, December 31, 2008




December 31 2008
A row over a list of officers to spearhead the transition at the Electoral Commission of Kenya is now threatening to divide the grand coalition government.

The Nation has established that the Prime Minister’s office has written to Mr Francis Muthaura, the head of the civil service, to protest at a list released by the Office of the President on Monday.

The letter signed by Mr Caroli Omondi, the PM’s principal administrative secretary, notes that other than the registrar of political parties, all other ECK staff are barred by the law disbanding the electoral body from having access to the offices and any documentation.

The letter dated December 30, says in part; “It is illegal to allow any former commissioner and/or members of staff to have such access”.

On Monday, the Office of the President issued a memo addressed to the commandant in charge of the security of government buildings to allow 38 officers, among them 31 from the ECK, access to the offices in Nairobi.

The list includes senior officers led by ECK secretary, Mr Suleiman Chege, the registrar of political parties, Ms Lucy Ndungu, IT manager, Mr Ayub Ambira, and legal officer Jemimah Keli.

Sources indicated to the Nation that the PM’s office was unhappy with the transition team since most of the officers were in charge of the core activities of the disputed 2007 presidential polls.

Transition team
Another concern raised by Mr Odinga’s office is that the drawing up of the transition team was not consultative.

“The major players in government were not involved in the selection of this team and there is a feeling that the Serena mediation team should have been left to do it,” the source said.

According to the letter from the PM’s office, the transition team is to be drawn from the Office of the President, the Office of the Prime Minister, the ministries of Justice, Public Service and Finance and the State Law Office.

It further states that the team will be co-chaired by the permanent secretaries in the Justice Ministry and Prime Minister’s office.

The transition team is to oversee the preservation of ECK assets as well as address all human resource related issues affecting the former commissioners and staff of the defunct electoral body.

The team will also regulate access to the ECK records and office, according to the letter.

Transfer of assets
The team is also expected to receive handing over reports from former ECK personnel and oversee the transfer of assets, liabilities and obligations of the disbanded body to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission.

ECK staff members were barred from their offices countrywide after the government decided to send them on compulsory leave after President Kibaki assented to the Constitutional Amendment Bill last Wednesday.

An interim electoral body is to be put in place to carry on reforms in the country’s electoral system.