, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 10 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission is in an aggressive search for referendum symbols and has sent out a national appeal for probable symbols amidst tough conditions put forward by Parliament.
A meeting between the Parliamentary Select Committee on the Constitution Review and the IIEC ruled out the use of orange and banana symbols used in 2005 and any symbols used by the 47 registered political parties.
“We did not go into discussing any particular symbols but we agreed that the colours, if any, should also not be any of the ones used by any of the political parties,” said PSC Chairman Abdikadir Mohammed.
“We are still in the process of consultations with stakeholders and we are open to ideas. Within 14 days we are going to come up with particular symbols,” said IIEC Chairman Issack Hassan.
Most political parties have taken up animals and fruits as their symbols.
The commission has Kenyans to help in the search.
“In your opinion, what two symbols should IIEC use for the coming referendum on the constitution?” says a question posed by the commission.
“Simple, neutral and easy to distinguish symbols are sought for to help voters, especially the not so literate ones, to identify with his standpoint,” adds the statement.
The IIEC took over the baton on the enactment of the new Constitution last week after the publication of the draft law by Attorney General Amos Wako. The commission has until this Wednesday to frame the referendum question and 14 days later to announce the referendum date and the symbols to be used.
“We are going to come up with symbols to that at least the illiterate voters can identify with their opinion of either Yes or No,” said Mr Hassan.
PSC Vice Chairman Ababu Namwamba says Parliament would expect the electoral body to remain neutral in the process.
During Monday’s meeting the two organs of review also agreed that the referendum question would be framed in a way that requires Kenyans to either vote Yes or No.
The use of Orange as a the symbol for the No camp in the 2005 referendum led to the formation of the Orange Democratic Movement while the Yes Camp which used the banana symbol later congregated to form the Party of National Unity.
President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have embarked on an endorsement campaign but face resistance from some members of the government led by Higher Education Minister William Ruto and Church leaders.
The clergy and the NO camp politicians are objecting to provisions on land, abortion and the inclusion of Kadhis courts. The Church leaders on Saturday launched the NO campaign a meting that was joined by Ruto and his group of 14 MPs.
Meanwhile the Committee of Experts on the Constitution Review (CoE) is scheduled to launch an extensive one month civic Education program at the KICC on Tuesday. The committee will start the distribution of the draft and a 20-page simplified version of the Proposed Constitution.
CoE has hired 15 regional coordinators and 210 civic educators and has said it will be working with vetted organizations.