Dates set for Kenya referendum campaigns

May 19, 2010 12:00 am

, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 19 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) has announced that referendum campaigns period will be between July 13 and August 2 this year.

The commission has also published referendum laws and regulations in a special gazette that will guide the referendum exercise.  Before the set campaign period, no group is allowed to campaign for or against the Proposed Constitution, according to IIEC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago.

But both proponents and opponents of the document have already started traversing the country holding public rallies under the guise of conducting civic education.

“Those participating in such action will be testing the commission’s power to deal with the situation.”

Mr Oswago warned that strong action will be taken against people breaking the published referendum laws.

“There are three things that are prohibited by law. They are corrupt practices, bribing fellow Kenyans and illegal practices,” Mr Oswago stated.

President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga are leading the lobbying for the new law while Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Church leaders are heading opposition to the draft.

The President and the Premier were at Uhuru Park last Saturday to launch their Yes campaign, a week after the No team kicked off their campaign at the same venue.

The published regulations mirror those of a general election. Voting shall be by secret ballot.

According to the rules, each of the No and Yes camps will be required to constitute a national committee and one committee in every constituency that will be responsible for their campaigns and the vote.

The camps will be required to file the names of the committee members with the commission before the campaign period.

Both camps will specify the leader of the committee and the chief agent. The chief agent will appoint up to two agents to be in charge of a polling centre as a representative during voting and counting of the votes.

The commission will appoint a returning officer for each constituency and deputy returning officer as may be required.  Each returning officer will – in consultation with the commission – appoint presiding officers and deputy presiding officers for the polling centers.

For the new law to pass, it must be supported by at least 51 percent of the total votes cast and at least 25 percent of votes cast in at least five provinces.

The Committee of Experts has already launched civic education to empower Kenyans with information on the proposed Constitution.

On Monday, the IIEC specified the referendum colours with GREEN representing YES while RED will stand for NO. The Commission announced it had begun compiling a voters\’ register in preparation for the referendum to be held on August 4.

At the end of the manual voter registration, 12.3 million voters had registered and the numbers are expected to increase when the Electronic Voter Registrations closes on Friday.

The registration already surpassed IIEC\’s target of 10 million voters before the referendum.


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