Yesterday, on January 9, the Selection Commission of the Anti-Corruption Bureau, which had to handpick the chief of the new body, formally met for the first time.
Despite the fact that the first sitting was chaired by Viktor Musiyaka, delegated to the Commission by the Parliament, two Commission members appointed within the President’s quota were elected as chairman and secretary – Refat Chubarov and Yevhen Zakharchenko, respectively.
The nine Commission members were formally received at the Presidential Administration. The meeting itself, which was broadcasted live, was opened by Petro Poroshenko, who emphasized again that the candidate must be chosen “quickly and very responsibly.”
“Today we must lose no time and promptly come up with solutions which will improve the selection procedure and provide answer to the following questions: whether the National Selection Commission sees foreign nationals as possible candidates for the vacancy of the anti-corruption chief, what kind of requirements we set for them, and what kind ofamendments the Law needs,” said the Presidents addressing the commissioners.
The President tipped the Administration’s hand. It seems that they do have a joker, one candidate for the Director, agreed with all political forces, and it is essential to hold the selection as soon as possible in order to avoid robust competition and fix the “right” qualification requirements, which would allow a foreign national qualify for the vacancy. This will require amending the law and taking a relevant public stance by the Commission members, so as to encourage the legislators to vote for the amendments in question.
It is critical for the President to play the game before January 24, which he himself has stated publicly multiple times. The explanation is simple and easy: Poroshenko wants to impose his candidate for the anti-corruption chief.
In what way then?
By choosing one candidate out of the three proposed by the Commission after a blitz selection, so fast that the competitivecandidates should not meet the application deadline or even have not enough time to take a decision to apply. And although all of the commissioners unanimously deem it advisable to have one candidate, it is this amendment to the Law that the President expects the nine to propose.
It is worth mentioning that should the selection procedure start today or on Monday, no changes in legislation could affect the requirements for the candidates which are set down in the vacancy announcement.
There was a deliberate manipulation with the deadline for choosing the Director of the Bureau. Indeed, this norm is established in the Final Provisions to the Law. The original version stipulated that the Law “shall come into effect” on the day of its publication, yet “shall be enacted” three months thereafter. The selection was supposed to be held within this three-month period. In the night prior to voting for the draft law, “enactment” was replaced with “coming into effect.” This resulted in an absurdity: the Law is not yet enacted, but it must be enforced. Thus, the day when the Law was published, October 25, started the countdown in choosing the anti-corruption chief.
If the President cared for the Law, he would have announced his three candidates for the Selection Commission back in late November, just as the public demanded; the first Commission meeting would have been held not at 6 p.m. on a Friday in January, but in late December, when the Commission was already formed and ready to work.
Nonetheless, the reputation and moral qualities of all the commissioners suggest that the selection will be fair and transparent, despite the government’s attempts to interfere in the process and manipulate the opinions of those charged with choosing the Director.
What should be done for this?
Adequate duration of the selection should be specified.
Not 10 working days, as the President will have it, but 21, that is three weeks, which will be enough for potential candidates not only to learn about the selection, but also to prepare a strong resume and start the paperwork.
The announcement should include not only the selection terms and conditions, but qualification requirements for the candidates as well.
The formal requirements are already laid down in the current legislation. How should the most appropriate candidate be picked out? For example, the Commission could evaluate the candidates’ professional expertise, competence, management skills, and moral qualities. Each candidate will receive a certain percentage of the criterion, according to his or her expertise, performances, achievements, motivation, and so on.
Criteria could differ, but they (and the candidate ranking procedure) must be made known at the very start.
Only open voting for the candidates.
Some commissioners’ proposals to vote secretly seem absurd. Firstly, this is contrary to the Law, which stipulates directly that the Selection Commission “shall select, through open voting among the candidates short-listed after the interview, three candidates who meet the requirements that apply to the Director of the National Bureau and, according to a justified decision of the Selection Commission, have the best expertise, knowledge, and quality of service required to perform the duties of the Director of the National Bureau.”
And secondly, it is quite absurd to first discuss the candidates, openly commenting on their qualifications and expertise, and then vote for them secretly.
Secret voting creates room for manipulations and rigging the results, and in the future gives grounds for appealing the Selection Commission’s decision in a court of law.
The Commission should unanimously propose one directorial candidate to the President instead of three. This is a good and clear signal for all prospective candidates to “join in the game” and compete for the vacancy of the anti-corruption chief. These changes are already envisaged in the draft bill No.1406, supported by the Verkhovna Rada’s Anti-Corruption Committee, and registered in the Rada. The only thing to do is to vote for it during the next session week.
Perhaps then this political game could get two jokers instead of one.