Kenya: IEBC under pressure over 25 politicians with integrity issues

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 24 May 2022 14:03, updated on Monday, 20 June 2022 11:41

Employees of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission register new voters before a concert promoting registration to vote, in Eldoret
Employees of Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) register new voters to vote in the August 2022 Kenyan general elections, in Eldoret, Kenya, April 23, 2022. REUTERS/Edwin Waita

Kenya’s National Integrity Alliance (NIA), a civil society pressure group, is urging the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to refrain from clearing 25 political aspirants with questionable integrity issues to run for elective positions in the 9 August polls.

In Deputy President William Ruto’s camp, eight leaders allied to the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) are on the list, while on Raila Odinga’s side, 10 pro-Azimio la Umoja aspirants have been flagged.

The National Integrity Alliance

The NIA comprises Transparency International Kenya (TI-Kenya); Inuka Kenya Ni Sisi; Mzalendo Trust; The Institute for Social Accountability (TISA); and the Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC).

In what they have dubbed the ‘Red Card 2022 Campaign’, the groups say they have collected information from existing reports by oversight institutions, such as the Office of the Auditor General, the Ethics & Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (ODPP).

“Regrettably, a number of these political aspirants have tainted integrity, they should be stopped,” says a statement from NIA.

According to Chapter Six of the Constitution, there are responsibilities of integrity bestowed upon roles of leadership. These include:

  • Selection on the basis of personal integrity, competence and suitability, or election in free and fair elections;
  • Objectivity and impartiality in decision making, and in ensuring that decisions are not influenced by nepotism, favouritism, other improper motives or corrupt practices;
  • Selfless service based solely on the public interest, demonstrated by:
    • Honesty in the execution of public duties;
    • The declaration of any personal interest that may conflict with public duties;
  • Accountability to the public for decisions and actions;
  • Discipline and commitment in service to the people.

However, Bobby Mkangi, a constitutional lawyer and political analyst based in Nairobi, says even though the reasons from from the pressure groups are genuine, it will be difficult to stop politicians like Rigathi Gachagua (Deputy President William Ruto’s running mate), given that he has not been found guilty in a court of law.

“Such cases are not easy, they [politicians] can only be stopped if proved guilty,” he says.

Ruto’s running mate Gachagua named

Among the prominent politicians named in the NIA list is Gachagua, who is currently facing trial on charges of corruption and money-laundering $65m in unexplained assets.

In his response, however, Gachagua says he will not bow to pressure because he has not been found guilty of graft. “The case is politically motivated, I’m innocent,” he told Citizen TV in an interview.

Gachagua says the graft case against him is a form of punishment for having not supported the March 2018 ‘handshake’ between President Uhuru Kenyatta and then-opposition chief Raila Odinga.

IEBC reacts

IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati says all the names in question have been submitted to the EACC and the DPP for vetting, ahead of the nominations slated for 29 May to 6 June.

“We shall use the information gathered to clear all the aspirants,” he said on Monday 23 May.

At the same time, the IEBC has been temporarily restrained from processing nomination papers for former Nairobi governor Mike Sonko to run for the Mombasa gubernatorial seat.

In a petition filed by Transparency International, Kituo cha Sheria and Haki Yetu, the civil society groups argued that Sonko should not be cleared to vie as he was removed from office in 2020 for failing to promote public confidence in the integrity of the office of governor.

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