, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 14 – The Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has assured Kenyans that it is ready to conduct the next General Election slated for August 8, next year.
Speaking during the unveiling of the 2015-2017 Election Operations Plan, IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan said the certainty in the election date has made it possible for them to map out timelines to be met by the commission, political players and other stakeholders in the run-up to the polls.
Hassan said the commission will ensure that the law is strictly applied in the entire electoral process which will start with massive voter registration.
He urged politicians against raising anxiety among Kenyans.
“At this time during the last General Election, we still didn’t know when the election date; there was still a matter in court on whether it would be in December or August. So the fact that one year and half months before the elections we are able to stand here today and unveil a road-map is testimony that the commission is now well prepared to handle the next election, having learnt from the experiences of the 2013 election,” he said.
The plan, among others, requires public and civil servants intending to participate in the elections to quit office by February 9, plus registering Kenyan voters living abroad.
IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba stated that he is optimistic Kenya will have a free and fair election next year.
With early preparation, Chiloba added they will require Sh45 billion to implement the two plans and urged Treasury and Parliament to approve their budget proposals to ensure the country has credible poll.
The commission had requested for Sh2 billion from the National Treasury for the voter registration but was only allocated Sh500 million, leaving it with a deficit of Sh1.5 billion.
The IEBC estimates Sh20.8 billion for the financial year 2016/17, Sh19.4 billion for 2017/18 while Sh5.1 billion will stretch to the financial year 2018/19.
The commission insists that it is financially constrained and has been forced to operate within the budgetary allocation.
Sh4.4 billion of the Sh45 billion budget for next year’s elections will be spent on voter registration.
Hassan said the commission has introduced back-ups to forestall a repeat of the 2013 elections, where the electronic system was unable to transmit provisional presidential results as expected in some centres, hence condemning Kenyans to wait for five days for the final results.
The commission’s plan includes officials at polling centres scanning final tallied results to the national tallying centre and also transporting the officials from their various centres to physically deliver poll results.
In 2013, the commission had introduced the Elections Results Transmission System (RTS) to ensure promptness in transmission of provisional results from polling stations to the tallying centres at the constituency, county and national levels.
“The ICT infrastructure will be revamped and staff adequately trained on the revised framework. The Commission intends to integrate electoral technologies in the forthcoming elections and build the human resource capacities required for effective management of the electoral process up to the proclamation of the final results, he told participants during the launch.
Prior to the 2013 elections, the commission had targeted to register 18 million voters but managed to net 14,388,781 who were registered in 24,618 centres over 30 days.
The commission intends to extend the exercise progressively to citizens residing in other parts of the world. The exercise will be conducted in countries where a minimum of 3,000 Kenyans are resident.
Diaspora voters will only vote for their preferred presidential candidate and in a national referendum.
The IEBC chief urged Parliament to fast-track the enactment of the Elections (Amendment) Bill, Campaign Regulations, Regulations on Diaspora Voting, which are before the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee of Parliament.
IEBC wants the National Assembly to review the elections laws, which include expanding electoral timelines and raising minimum academic qualifications for those seeking elective posts at the counties and national levels and staggering of elections.