Flamboyant Kitui based lawyer Morris Kimuli has been appointed the seven-member Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel by President Uhuru Kenyatta.
Mr Kimuli has been Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu’s lawyer, but his appointment was proposed by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK).
The President revoked the earlier appointment of Dorothy Jemator and appointed Mr Kimuli in an intriguing move that may stoke further divisions within the Law Society of Kenya. He was immediately sworn in at the Supreme Court.
According to the gazette notice dated May 27th, Uhuru revoked the appointment of Ms Jemator and appointed Mr Kimuli, to join the IEBC selection panel which has already started its work.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by Paragraph 1 (1) of the First Schedule to the IEBC Act 2011, I President Uhuru Kenyatta, President and Commander of the Kenya Defense Forces appoint Morris Kimuli to be a member of the selection panel for the selection of nominees to the IEBC. The appointment of Kimengech Dorothy Jemator is revoked,” read the gazette notice.
Interestingly, both Jemator and Kimuli were nominees of the divided Law Society of Kenya.
While Jemator was picked by some council members with the backing of LSK Chief Executive Officer Mercy Wambua, Mr Kimuli was nominated by Society President Nelson Havi.
Reacting to his appointment, Mr Kimuli said he was aware that the process leading to his appointment had elicited mixed reactions from sections of the Law Society of Kenya but promised to serve with diligence, integrity and firmness.
“I take up this office, I have neither friend nor foe. I am greatly humbled by the distinct honour to represent my colleagues in this critical national assignment, and I hope and pray that our collective work as a panel will honour God and perpetuate the positive aspirations of our people” Mr Kimuli wrote on his Facebook page.
The appointment changes come weeks after the panel started its work and published the names of 699 applicants for the jobs.
It is understood that the shortlisting process is ongoing and the names were to be out as early as Monday next week
President Kenyatta had on April 26, appointed Jemator alongside six others to sit in the selection panel to fill the vacant four commissioners’ positions at the agency.
Others are Dr Elizabeth Muli, Gideon Solonka, Elizabeth Meyo, Rev. Joseph Ngumbi and Dr Faradim Abdalla.
But Jemator’s appointment was vehemently opposed by a team led by Havi, exposing the deeply rooted infighting at the lawyers’ lobby.
Havi had forwarded Morris’s name to the President for the appointment but the rival faction rejected the move.
The faction accused Havi of acting unilaterally and disregarding the LSK regulations that require a competitive process.
But the embattled LSK president insisted that Kimuli will represent LSK in the IEBC Commissioners Selection Panel.
“She holds two state appointments. The government cannot impose a representative upon the society,” Havi said.
He said that Jemator was already serving in two state agencies: the HIV and the Energy and Petroleum tribunals.
“Ms Dorothy Jemator should continue serving the Jubilee and ODM parties and the Government of Kenya in the Energy and Petroleum Tribunal; the HIV Aids Tribunal; and the BBI Steering Committee. A state officer cannot serve as an appointee of the LSK in the selection panel,” he said.
But the society’s CEO Mercy Wambua maintained that the council did the right thing by following the regulations when they picked Jemator.
She said Havi was out to muddy the water for the society to miss out in the panel “because he is sure the contestation may end up in court.”
The parallel nominations epitomized the infighting and persistent wrangles that rocked the once-powerful and influential lawyers lobby in the recent past.
Last year, the council suspended Havi, but he has dismissed the suspension as work of a few renegades.
Kimuli now joins the Selection Panel a month after it was constituted.
Already, the team chaired by Muli has published the names of 669 applicants who have expressed interest in the vacant positions.
They include politicians, former MPs, human rights defenders, former and serving members of constitutional commissions and university lecturers.
Some of the big names are former Gem MP Joe Donde, former Nyamira Senator Kennedy Mong’are, former NCIC commissioners Gitile Naituli and Milly Lwanga and NGO veteran Justus Nyang’awa