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Court orders IEBC selection panel to interview two more candidates

The Selection panel for the recruitment of members of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will now interview two candidates who had not been shortlisted.

This follows a High Court ruling on Friday by Justice Edward Muriithi which ordered the Selection panel for the IEBC to include Mr Suyianka Lempaa and Mr Bob Ndubi who had initially applied for the position of members of the commission, to be interviewed just like the other 36 shortlisted candidates.

The judge said this would increase public confidence in the commission.

“No real prejudice will be suffered by the Selection panel or the Attorney General in allowing Mr Lempaa and Mr Ndubi to be interviewed, any perceived prejudice is outweighed by the public interest in the matter to have transparency in the process of appointment of commissioners and Chair of IEBC in accordance with the constitution,” Justice Muriithi said.

The judge, who pointed out that the court would not wish to interfere with the timelines set for the recruitment process, insisted that only the two should be considered, since the court had not addressed the qualifications of other candidates who were locked out.

“There is a felt need to conclude the exercise for the constitution of IEBC in good time to allow for the preparation of August 2017 general elections, however, urgency does not justify disregard of the law and there is no public interest in breach of the law,” Justice Muriithi ruled.

The case had been filed by a Mr Jared Juma who wanted the recruitment halted on a temporary basis until the selection panel reveals the criteria used in shortlisting candidates for the interviews.

The judge had earlier declined to issue temporary orders halting the process in the case in which Mr Lempaa and Mr Ndubi are listed as interested parties.

According to Mr Juma, he had written to the Selection Panel seeking to be given reasons as to why ten out of 15 applicants for the position of chairperson were not shortlisted.

VALID LEGAL REASONS

He had also sought to know the criteria used in the shortlisting and requested that he be furnished with the information by November 21.

But since the panel did not respond to his request, he claimed, through lawyer Victor Kariuki, that qualified as well as deserving applicants could be locked out from the selection process without valid legal reasons.

The said interviews kicked off on November 28 at County Hall building in Nairobi, following an advertisement to interested applicants to send their applications by November 7.

Names and qualifications of 36 applicants out of a total of 760 for the positions of chairperson and members of IEBC were published on November 15.

Only eight of the 36 shortlisted candidates for the interviews which are expected to be completed on December 16, are women.

They include former Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission official Margaret Wambui Ngugi Shava and Ms Roseline Odhiambo-Odede who was a member of the defunct Judges and Magistrates Vetting Board.

Others are Ms Anne Wanja Kariuki, Ms Faith Nziku Kasiva, Ms Consolata Nkatha Bucha, Dr Janet Chepng’eno Kirui, Dr Roselyne Kwamboka Akombe and Ms Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya.

On November 16, the panel published only five names of those shortlisted for the chairperson position in the Kenya Gazette, in two local dailies and a website of the Public Service Commission.

Justice Muriithi said he will give more reasons for his ruling on December 23.

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