This week saw quite hilarious scenes during the vetting of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission candidates. Nominee Irene Masit Cherop was revealed to have in fact been a candidate in Uasin Gishu in the recent past during Jubilee party’s nominations. The incident raised questions as to how she might have successfully gone through all the processes, and reached the final stage, and whether she might have purposely been allowed to get that far only to be embarrassed.
It emerged during the parliamentary proceedings that Masit unsuccessfully sought the Jubilee Party ticket in the Elgeyo Marakwet woman representative race in 2017.
Her brief political journey now threatens her appointment to the electoral agency, with opinion divided on whether her 2017 bid falls within or outside the constitutional provision for the appointment of IEBC commissioners.
Masit was among eight aspirants who battled for the Jubilee Party ticket in the Elgeyo Marakwet contest. She was outvoted—the primary marking the end of her bid.
Article 88 of the Constitution says a person is not eligible for appointment as IEBC commissioner if the person held or contested for the position of MP or MCA within the previous five years.
“A person is not eligible for appointment as a member of the commission if the person has at any time within the preceding five years held office, or stood for election as a member of Parliament or of a county assembly.”
The Constitution also bars a person who has been a member of the governing body of a political party or held a state office within a similar period.
On Tuesday, the National Assembly Justice and Legal Affairs Committee took Masit to task to justify her suitability. She told the vetting panel that she only participated in the primaries, not the actual election.
“I did not reach the election date,” she said.
However, Suna East MP Junet Mohamed asked whether she knew that party primaries are part of elections.
What is an election? Does it start and end on the day leaders are elected by voters? And does seeking a party’s ticket during nominations amount to standing for an election?
These are some of the questions MPs are grappling with in their vetting of the four nominees to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.
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