Wednesday, October 15, 2008



October 14 2008

The Electoral Commission may be disbanded following a Cabinet decision to fully implement the Kriegler report. A 10-member team led by President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga was given two weeks to draw an implementation plan. The committee will include the eight Kofi Annan peace mediators.

The Cabinet gave the President and the Premier the go-ahead to fully implement the recommendations of the Independent Review Commission headed by South African retired judge, Mr Justice Johann Kriegler, whose verdict was that the ECK should be overhauled.

The report stated that ECK should be radically reformed, or a new electoral management body be created “with a new name, image and ethos.”

Other members of the Kibaki-Raila committee are deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and Cabinet colleagues William Ruto, James Orengo, Dr Sally Kosgei, Martha Karua, Mutula Kilonzo, Prof Sam Ongeri and Moses Wetang’ula.

They were members of the negotiating team under former UN secretary-general Kofi Annan, which brokered the peace accord that saved Kenya from sliding to anarchy and civil war. Sources at the Cabinet meeting chaired by the President at State House indicated that the decision to overhaul ECK was initially opposed by some ministers.
Sources said a number of minsters said ECK reforms should be carried out during the forthcoming review of the Constitution.

“The Cabinet underlined the importance of providing the way forward on the report and the need to address the issues that came up under agenda 4 of the Serena talks,” a statement from Presidential Press Service said.

It added: “The Cabinet also agreed on the need to have a united approach in the implementation of the changes recommended to Kenya’s electoral process due to the importance of electoral reforms in the prosperity of the country.”

Tax-payers will have to pay nearly Sh500 million to former MPs as the Cabinet also endorsed retirement benefits for those who served from 1963 to 2002.

The President and Mr Odinga were picked to lead the crucial committee due to their position as principals in the coalition government, while other members were drawn from the National Dialogue and Reconciliation Committee that negotiated an end to two months of post-election violence following the dispute over presidential poll results.

The 10-member committee will prepare an action plan of the Kriegler commission’s recommendations. The committee is to complete its report within 14 days.

The Kriegler report is to be tabled in Parliament today and copies given to all MPs, PPS reported.

Overseas trip

Mr Ruto did not attend Tuesday's meeting as he is on an overseas trip. Acting Finance Minister John Michuki and Children and Gender’s Esther Murugi are on similar trips.

Tuesday’s session was said to have been stormy with some ODM-K and PNU members coming out in defence of ECK
However, sources said, it was later unanimously agreed that the Kriegler team made specific recommendations and which should be implemented for the good of the country.

“It was agreed that for last year’s elections to be a lesson to everybody and to avoid witch-hunt, the Kriegler report must be implemented in full,” a source said.

Over 1,200 Kenyans were killed and about 350,000 displaced in election violence sparked by the announcement of disputed presidential results on December 30, last year.

The Kibaki-led committee is expected to come up with modalities of implementing recommendations of the Kriegler report, that would lead to radical electoral reforms. The team will start its work immediately.

In its report presented to President Kibaki on September 17, the Kriegler team called for a lean policy-making and supervisory board known as the Electoral Management Board (EMB) to run the country’s poll process.

“Whatever the decisions to be made concerning the electoral system and other aspects of the electoral process, one thing is sure; the ECK’s internal management processes deserve a thorough overhaul,” says the report.

The team recommended that the new electoral body be made up of between three and nine Commissioners appointed by the President and approved by Parliament. Currently, the ECK has 22 members, including the chairperson, all appointed by the President.

The report has also recommended the introduction of performance contracts for the ECK secretariat staff.

It adds that the bureaucratic procedures in the commission and the unwieldy committee structures interfered with staff selection, recruitment, training and deployment.

“Certainly, the tallying staff at the national tallying centre either had not received adequate training or, if they had, did not quite do as they had been instructed,” says the report.

The Kriegler team says that the ECK is not financially independent and has recommended that the electoral body’s expenses be charged to the Consolidated Fund.

The team said it was expensive to run the current ECK and that it costs Kenyans Sh19.3 billion to finance the entire electoral cycle of which Sh500 million is paid out to commissioners as salaries over the five years.

On Tuesday, the Cabinet heeded calls by former MPs and approved the retirement benefits for those who served from 1963 to 2002 by way of a one-off payment.

The former lawmakers have been complaining that they served at a time when salaries for MPs were peanuts, that they enjoyed very little allowances and that they were now living as paupers despite some of them having fought for independence or served the country diligently.

A number of them, they say, died out of poverty.

On Tuesday, the former MPs said they were demanding at least Sh450 million in pension for having served Kenyans at different times.

Among the 20 former MPs who addressed a news conference in Nairobi was Mr Eric Cheserek, who served between 1969 and 1974.
The former MPs want to be paid at least Sh500,000 each.On Tuesday, the Cabinet also directed the minister for Special Programmes, Dr Naomi Shaban, to ensure food was distributed “more” efficiently to people facing severe food shortages in parts of the country.

Mr Michuki was told to closely monitor the current global financial crisis and its likely short and long term consequences on the economy.

This follows financial crisis in the US that has spiralled to other parts of the world and threatened Kenya’s export market

Submitted by kodero
Posted October 15, 2008 08:11 AM

This would be an important step in the journey toward reforming key institutions of governance, which is long overdue. Statesmanship and not brinkmanship should inform the process. This had better be clean. Kenya cannot afford another false start.

Submitted by thecreature
Posted October 15, 2008 08:02 AM

It really saddens me that PNU and ODM-K MPs are still this narrow-minded. They benefited from Kivuitu's mischief. Period. Surely, they don't expect that Kenyans are idiots to ever go to the polls with Kivuitu as chairman? It is time for these two parties to devise a different game plan, if stolen elections is the basis for their political survival. Kivuitu is past tense. Plan on how a new ECK can be compromised because Kivuitu cannot be salvaged.

Submitted by SJ502
Posted October 15, 2008 07:01 AM

To effectively police the deteriorating global financial sector (the only way now), the country's Finance ministry requires a Mminister working in full capacity...not acting. Either confirm Michuki or appoint one immediately.