, NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 16 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is on Saturday set to announce the date of the country’s next general elections.
The declaration will end mounting anxiety over the date of the polls, after failure by the President and the Prime Minister to give guidance on the matter.
On Thursday, the IEBC gave strong indication that it would set a date for the polls after the term of the current Parliament expires in January next year.
The commission’s chairman Issack Hassan said they wrote to President Mwai Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga asking if they intended to dissolve the coalition government for elections to be held this year, but no reply was forthcoming.
“In the absence of the reply from the two coalition principals, it leaves us with no choice but to come up with an election date,” Hassan told a forum of the civil society and the media on Thursday.
He added: “We have seen the coalition partners speaking at various forums but this cannot be taken to be a reply to our letter to them,” Hassan said. “We are going with the assumption that they have no reply. We are therefore going with the assumption that it is Parliament to finish its term… so we will base our date on that.”
Since MPs in the 10th Parliament were sworn in on January 14, 2008, their term ends on January 14, 2013.
Based on his announcement, the IEBC will set the election date within 60 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly at the end of its term as stipulated under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
“The commission is consulting within and without before setting the election date. This will be made public very soon, we want to announce the date to end the anxiety,” the IEBC chief had said. “We will determine the election date based on the constitutional court ruling.” (READ related story here).
In January, a three-judge bench ruled that an election date would be determined if the two principals decided to dissolve the coalition government which was formed after the disputed presidential poll of 2007, or at the end of the term of 10th Parliament.
When President Kibaki spoke about the possible election date at a forum in Sagana last week, he only hinted at a 2013 election, ending speculation of any possibility of him arriving at a decision of dissolving the coalition government any time soon to pave way for an early poll.
On Thursday, the electoral and boundaries body announced it was putting final touches on a raft of mechanisms aimed at ensuring a free and fair election, which includes a total overhaul of the election regulations to replace the one developed by the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya in 1992.
Hassan said that his commission would be strict on all the election regulations, including putting up a department to investigate and prosecute electoral offences.
“We have the powers to impound public resources used in campaigns, including minister’s official vehicles,” he said.