President Uhuru Kenyatta last evening presented to Parliament the names of individuals nominated to head the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Should Parliament approve of the candidates, Mr Wafula Chebukati will become the chairman of the commission, having beaten his fellow Coast-based lawyer, Mr Tukero ole Kina, to the finish line.
Members of the new-look IEBC would include Ms Consolata Nkatha Bucha Maina, Mr Boya Molu, Dr Roselyne Kwamboka Akombe, Dr Paul Kibiwott Kurgat, Ms Margaret Wanjala Mwachanya and Prof Abdi Guliye.
The Selection Panel chaired by Ms Bernadette Musundi had on Thursday last week presented the final shortlist, which included 11 candidates, to the President.
Also nominated for commissioner were Prof Abdi Yakub Guliye, Prof Henry Kizito Okola, Mr Zephania Okeyo Aura and Mr Samuel Kimeu but they did not make it.
The change of guard at the IEBC follows repeated accusations by the opposition against the sitting commissioners on their incompetence in handling the General Election in 2013.
That led to countrywide protests that saw police use force to quell. However, the government would bow to pressure and a protracted deal struck to have the team out.
Religious leaders have said that hatemongers and those involved in corruption should not be on the ballot in the August 2017 elections.
They also played a critical part in bringing the two rival political camps to the negotiating table to strike a deal on the exit of the current crop of electoral commissioners that is led by Mr Issack Hassan.
The two nominees for chairman and nine for members of the IEBC were selected under a cloud of high-stakes jostling between the two main political formations.
While releasing the 11 names, Ms Musundi said the candidates were assessed on academic and professional qualifications, as well as leadership and integrity. They were also tested on ICT and presentation skills, general knowledge, technical proficiency and competencies.
But behind-the-scenes intrigues and trade-ins saw regional balance and perceived party affiliations also came into play.
But while many expected Mr Ole Kina to be the most likely pick given that the IEBC already has a member of Chebukati’s county, the Nation had learnt of moves to have the President appoint Mr Chebukati and have Ezra Chiloba resign as CEO.
Both Mr Chebukati and Mr Chiloba come from Trans Nzoia and it would be inconceivable to have both the chairman and the chief executive come from the same county.
Matters have not been helped by the fact that Mr Kenyatta’s men see Mr Chiloba as more of a Ruto man, having worked with his legal advisor, Mr Korir Sing’oei.
Mr Chiloba’s exit could however precipitate a crisis in the Secretariat, which is charged with the day-to-day preparations of the elections eight months away.
Some candidates, however, still went through with baggage but it was agreed that it be dealt with at another stage after they got overwhelming support from the panellists.
“We knew we could only do so much and we did our best, but at some point we said any misgiving can be addressed during vetting, when another door for public participation will be opened. Anybody, then, can bring a petition,” said another source.