African Press International (API)

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Kibaki picks five new ECK bosses

Posted by African Press International on October 30, 2007

Publication Date: 10/30/2007With only 57 days to the December 27 General Election, President Kibaki has appointed five new commissioners to serve in the Electoral Commission of Kenya.

President Mwai Kibaki

Two other commissioners, vice-chairman Kihara Muttu and Mr Jack Tumwa were re-appointed after their terms expired yesterday. However, the tenures of their five colleagues were not renewed.

The new members are Mr Samuel Nyanchama Maugo, Mr Shem Sanya Balongo, Ms Rachel Wanjala Kileta, Mr David Alfred Njeru Ndambiri andMr Daniel Waisiko Wambura. They will all serve for five years.


They replaced Ms Rachael Mzera, Mr Abuya Abuya, Mr Habel Nyamu, Mr Samwel Manyunza and Mr Stephenson Mageto.

A statement from the Presidential Press Service released last evening said the new appointments took effect immediately.

The transition ended months of speculation over the fate of the seven commissioners whose terms were expiring yesterday.

Chairman Samuel Kivuitus term ends on December 2. Both ODM and ODM Kenya have in the past asked the President to extend Mr Kivuitus term. Their call was supported by the US ambassador to Kenya and envoys from the European Union.

The term of Mr Kivuitus long serving vice-chairman, Mr Gabriel Mukele, expired two weeks ago. He was replaced as commissioner by Ms Pamela Tutui but his job as vice-chairman was taken by Mr Muttu after an election by the 21 commissioners. Mr Muttus re-appointment could be an indication that Mr Kivuitu could also be on his way out.

The appointment of an ECK chairman is the prerogative of the President under the Constitution while the deputy is elected by commissioners.

A commissioner holds office for five years and the President can extend the term after every five years.

The outspoken Mr Kivuitu oversaw the 1997 and 2002 general elections and the 2005 referendum on the proposed constitution which Kenyans voted against.

On Sunday, Mr Kivuitu led the commission staff in day-long prayers at KICC in Nairobi. They prayed for national unity and peaceful elections. At the time, Mr Kivuitu said he felt sorry that some of the commissioners were leaving after many years of working together. He said he knew how to work with them even in times of crisis.

Describing ECK as an institution, Mr Kivuitu was however hopeful that new commissioners could still successfully oversee the elections. Experienced commissioners would only be required to resolve issues that required urgent attention.

The independence of the commission and its ability to competently handle the December 27 election has been a point of heated debate across party divides, with those supporting the renewal of Mr Kivuitus tenure saying continuity was needed to guarantee free and fair polls.

ODM and ODM-K leaders have in the past criticised the President for failing to stick to the 1997 Inter-Parliamentary Parties Group (IPPG) agreement which required that all parties be consulted in the appointment of ECK commissioners.

ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga said the President could not be a player and at the same time appoint a referee. The President is seeking re-election on a PNU ticket.

President Kibakis decision to appoint nine commissioners earlier in the year without consulting parliamentary parties was met with opposition by some NGOs, envoys and politicians allied to the Opposition.

Meanwhile, fresh details indicate that ECK has already taken key steps in readiness for the December 27 General Election.

The commission led by Mr Samuel Kivuitu has started buying vehicles, motorboats and other items and materials needed for the big day.

It has also signed agreements with private air charter firms to provide freight services during the campaigns and on the election day.

Mr Kivuitu estimated that the election will cost about Sh5 billion.

Two foreign companies, one South African and one British, are on stand-by to print about 43 million leaves of ballot papers, which will be used by voters in the presidential, parliamentary and civic elections.

And yesterday, commissioners were dispatched to violence-prone areas of Mt Elgon, Kuresoi and Tana River to assess how the commission will deal with security on the day of elections.

There are 14.2 million registered voters and the commission assumes all will turn out to vote.

That means Mr Kivuitus team has to have about 14.3 million leaves of ballot papers for each category presidential, parliamentary and civic so that voters are guaranteed enough ballot papers in every station.

ECK secretary J.H. Tsola said that if a polling station has 557 registered voters, then the printer will be asked to print 12 booklets each containing 50 leaves. That would bring the number of leaves available to about 600.

Ballot paper

In certain cases where the figure is so close to the next zero an additional booklet would be printed to cover cases where a ballot paper might be torn accidentally or to provide an extra sheet in case of a spoilt vote.

The Nation has established that two firms which won the printing tenders will be printing different categories of the ballot papers.

The South Africa printer has been detailed to print the presidential and civic ballot papers. In all, it will print 28.6 million leaves of ballot papers: 14.3 million for presidential and another 14.3 million for civic elections. The UK firm will print parliamentary ballot papers for the 210 constituencies. It, too, will print 14.3 million leaves.

The ECK is now waiting for presidential candidates to present nomination papers on November 14 and 15 before it can forward their names and party symbols to the South African firm.

And once parliamentary and civic nominations are concluded between November 23 and 24, the names of candidates in every constituency and civic wards, their party names and symbols will be forwarded to the two firms.

To ensure the General Election is not affected by transport hitches, ECK has set aside Sh110 million to buy motor vehicles, motorboats and hire aircraft.

Ten new Toyota Prado cars were bought for some of the commissioners to help them supervise the electoral process.

Another six Land Rovers and nine double cab four-by-four vehicles were also bought to ensure all the commission staff and election materials are sent to the respective polling stations in time for the polls.

ECK has also bought speed boats to transport election materials to islands like Lamu at the Coast and Mfangano and Ringiti on Lake Victoria.

Last week, Mr Kivuitu had said the polls would start at 6am and close at 5pm, which means voting time had been reduced by an hour. Previous elections were conducted from 6am to 6pm.

According to Mr Kivuitu, the results of this years elections would be known a day after the casting of ballots as ECK had introduced a new system of reporting using Short Text Message (sms) and email. Every constituency will have a computer to transmit the results.

The announcement of results will be quick. In 2002, I was beaten for delay and I dont want a similar scenario to befall me or my successor, Mr Kivuitu said.

Of the 14.2 million registered voters, 7.5 million are women. Sixty one per cent are aged between 18 and 40 years.

Lifted and published by API/APN

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