Tuesday, September 23, 2008



By David Ohito
The Standard
Nairobi, Kenya

September 23,2008

The Krigeler report appears to unite politicians on minimum reforms. The only difference is in approach. The Standard writer David Ohito interviewed Senior Counsel Paul Muite. Here are the excerpts:

QUESTION: The Kriegler report proposes reform of electoral laws and the Judiciary. Comment.

ANSWER: The ECK and the Judiciary must be reformed as part of a minimum reforms package ahead of, and concurrently with, comprehensive review of the Constitution. Without reforming the ECK now, who will conduct the referendum to usher in the new constitution? Without reforming the Judiciary, who will adjudicate on any disputes on the referendum? Kriegler is saying what some of us have been agitating for since the 90s, namely a complete overhaul of the electoral laws and field in the context of a new constitution.

QUESTION: Kofi Annan wants the Kriegler Report implemented as part of reforms. Comment.

ANSWER: I agree, but it is not going to be easy. There are many conflicting personal interests across the political divide and few genuine reformers.

QUESTION: There is a new push for minimum reforms package ahead of comprehensive Constitutional reforms. What is your take?

ANSWER: We have no choice. That is the way to go. We should opt for a lean professional ECK of nine commissioners recruited on the basis of competence, ability, relevant qualifications, experience and integrity. The recruitment should take into account the regional diversity of the Kenyan people and gender. Parliament must vet and approve the appointments. Judicial reforms must focus on how those to be appointed judges are identified. The current situation where all the members of the Judicial Service Commission are hand picked by the President is an example of the imperial presidency, which is at the core of Kenya’s rot.

QUESTION: Kriegler warned of another bloodbath in 2012 unless we act. Do you agree?

ANSWER: I agree entirely. Kenyans forget fast! The underlying fundamentals for chaos must be addressed even as we repeatedly say it must never happen again. We must adopt the concurrent principles of minimum reforms and comprehensive review of the Constitution.

QUESTION: Should we disband ECK and replace it?

ANSWER: Yes indeed, and today, not tomorrow, via the minimum reform Package and for the reasons stated above.

QUESTION: Comment on the public confidence and independence of ECK.

ANSWER: Zero. Kibaki was wrong and unfair in hand picking commissioners in violation of the 1997 IPPG’s gentleman’s agreement on the argument that the Constitution gave him power to do so. Yes it did, but this was the Constitution that had been violated to create the imperial presidency and the replacement of which Kenyans had shed blood in 1990-91 and1997 to achieve.