Intrigues that led to Miller’s appointment


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By Isaac Ongiri and Abiya Ochola

Regional and ethnic balancing, as well as the Kibaki succession jumped to the fore in heart-rending intrigues before the chairman of the interim electoral body was picked, The Standard can reveal.

City lawyer Cecil Guyana Miller, 39, was the compromise to win the Parliamentary Select Committee on Constitutional Review’s nomination, and which could be tabled in Parliament today for ratification.

The transitional electoral body Miller is expected to head — the Independent Interim Electoral Commission (IIEC) — replaces the Samuel Kivuitu-led defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya that was disgraced for mishandling the 2007 presidential election.

If ratified, IIEC shall last two years from its inception, with its major tasks being laying the structures for the future electoral body and handling electoral disputes.

“I want to make Kenyans have faith in our electoral body and ensure that electoral reforms that have for a long time been talked about are addressed,” a delighted Miller said, in an interview with The Standard.

Horse-trading

Should Parliament fail to endorse Miller, they would have former House Speaker Francis ole Kaparo and Institute of Education and Democracy boss Koki Muli to fall back to, the two having made it to the final shortlist of three out of a strong cast of eight.

City lawyer Cecil Guyana Miller, was the compromise to win nomination for chairman of the interim electoral body.

Two Cabinet ministers and an Assistant Minister kept their horse-trading tricks, rooting for candidates from their regions.

A source at the meeting told The Standard how one Cabinet minister mobilised the panel against former Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) chairman Maina Kiai, earlier seen as a frontrunner for the seat.

Kiai was among the heavyweights that fell by the wayside.

His tough stance against the Government and certain ministers may have put paid his chances for IIEC chairmanship. Moreover, some PSC members said they were not keen on picking someone from a region whose leaders are already focused on the 2012 General Election. “There was consensus that persons affiliated to various political camps be dropped at a certain stage. It made work easier for Miller whose political affairs with the country’s leadership could not be traced,” said a reliable source on the panel.

Each candidate was discussed in detail, leaving only an Assistant Minister from the Rift Valley rooting for the former Speaker and a Cabinet Minister from Eastern Province vouching for Koki as the rest voted for Miller.

Koki’s name was deleted on the final stretch on grounds she was from the same community as former ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu.

“It would have been a travesty of natural justice for Kenyans if we were to appoint an IIEC chair from the same region as the previous chair of ECK,” said an insider.

The most successful

The PSC chairman Abdikadir Mohamed announced his committee and a private human resources firm that had been contracted for the recruitment settled on Miller after three hours of consultations.

“It was in the interest of the panel that the best candidate is picked among the best and Miller’s application was the most successful,” said Mohamed.

Law Society of Kenya (LSK) chairman Okongo O’mogeni endorsed the appointment, describing Miller, as an experienced constitutional lawyer.

“IIEC needs a professional not a politician. We as LSK have faith that Miller is the right man for the job,” O’mogeni said.

O’mogeni said Miller’s background is above the country’s usual ethnicised perspectives given his ancestral Guyana origin.

Ikolomani MP Bonny Khalwale hailed the appointment, saying it was a good record in the push for reform.

“Kaparo and Kiai were both good and highly qualified, but Miller brings in something fresh to the system. I think this is the way to go. We shall support him,” Khalwale said.

Imenti Central MP Gitobu Imanyara also lauded the appointment saying that it was a milestone for the youth.

“I am very happy that the PSC has done the right thing, initiating the process of handing over the country to professionally enabled young people,” Imanyara said.

But Nyatike MP Omondi Anyanga said it was up to MPs to now decide on the proposed appointments, saying it is important that what is good for the country is given more weight.

Fida Executive Director Patricia Nyaundi, speaking on behalf of Gender 10, which represents a group of women organisations, said the nomination was “extreme disappointment”.

Nyaundi said women were hoping to have Muli nominated as she had distinguished herself in electoral reform campaign through education, “that led to many young people registering as voters.

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