, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 22 – Kenya’s historic fresh voter registration kicked off on Monday as the country leaped into restoring public confidence in elections. The countrywide exercise will run for 45 days and is scheduled to end on May 21.
The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has announced that besides the usual manual registration it will pilot electronic voter registration in 18 constituencies.
President Mwai Kibaki was expected to launch the exercise at the Othaya Approved School Grounds, according to the Presidential Press Service (PPS).
“We are requesting voters to return old ECK electoral cards upon registration,” said IIEC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan in a statement.
“This exercise is open to Kenyan citizens of 18 years and above who are holders of either a Kenyan identity card or a valid Kenyan passport,” Mr Hassan said adding that the Electronic Voter Registration (EVR) for the 18 constituencies would be held beginning April 12 to May 21.
EVR will be carried out in Kamukunji, Lang’ata, Mvita, Mbooni, Nyeri Town, Kikuyu, Ainamoi, Nakuru Town, Eldoret North, Ikolomani, Webuye, Bonchari and Dujis. It will also be conducted in Imenti Central, Isiolo South, Kisumu Town West, Malindi and Wajir East.
After the 45 days the Commission shall countercheck the register to eliminate any cases of double registration before submitting the provisional register in all the registration centers for inspection by the public for a period of at least 30 days in accordance with the National Assembly and Presidential Elections Act.
The exercise will cost the IIEC close to Sh4 billion and is targeting some 10 million potential voters who are expected to register.
The IIEC replaced the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), which was blamed for bungling the 2007 presidential vote tally, prompting disputes that spiraled into vicious tribal killings of some 350,000 Kenyans and displacement of nearly half a million others.
There were only 13 million registered voters at the time, but a commission later formed to investigate the botched poll established that over one million dead voters ‘voted’ in the elections, raising questions on the credibility of the ECK.
The IIEC is trying to beat deadlines to have a fresh voter register before the national referendum on the draft constitution and for use in the upcoming by elections in Matuga and South Mugirango constituencies which fell vacant following nullification by the courts.
Matuga was being represented by Chirau Mwakwere who subsequently lost his Cabinet seat while South Mugirango was being represented by James Magara who also lost a post of the Assistant Minister for Trade.
IIEC said it has adequately trained enough clerks to carry out the exercise which will be undertaken in over 20,000 election centres. Slightly over 40,000 clerks have been recruited and trained for the exercise.