, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 8 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) on Friday called for amendments to the Political Parties Act to align it with the new Constitution.
Chairman Issack Hassan explained that this would help iron out matters surrounding the financing of electoral campaigns as well as independent candidates which are not presently catered for by the Act.
He argued that the changes would help the electoral commission deal with some of the electoral malpractices as the country gears up for the 2012 general elections.
“The Political Parties Act is required to allow independent electoral candidates to stand on their own without the support of political parties. Under the current Act you must be nominated by a political party so it will require an amendment to create room for that provision,” he said.
The IIEC also wants the Office of the Registrar of political parties to get more operational independence. Mr Hassan said the commission would forward its proposals to Parliament.
“From there we have no control over the making of the laws. Our job as a commission is to consult with our stakeholders including the political parties and civil societies in developing the relevant laws,” he said.
He added that the commission planned to use a fully fledged electronic system for the upcoming elections as it would seal any emerging loopholes.
“We have been studying the e-voting system from India and South America and like I said before, we will operate like corporate entities which say ‘when you are happy with our services, please tell others. You’re not happy please tell us’,” he said.
Mr Hassan added that the commission wanted a viable and reliable electronic system that would not leave a dent in its finances.
“We have not yet started doing the costing but we know for example that the Indian electronic voting machine costs Sh16,140 per unit so if you have 20,000 polling stations, we will be talking of close to Sh323 million which is not very expensive,” he argued.
The IIEC boss was speaking during a breakfast meeting with the donor community where the commission also received a report on the manner in which the referendum and recent by-elections were conducted.
Elections Donor Group Chairman Geert Anderson who is also the Danish Ambassador noted that electoral malpractices featured during the two recent processes.
“The IIEC continues to discharge its mandate admirably. However there were allegations such as voter bribery in the by-elections,” he said.
British High Commissioner to Kenya Rob Macaire argued that integrity and transparency remained a vital component in ensuring the country achieved electoral reforms.
“I think that what people look for in their electoral commissions is not just technical competence but steadfastness and courage in what they do. And that’s what this commission has shown in abundance. I hope they keep it up,” he said.
The Heads of Mission also called for the structured cooperation between the IIEC, security and judicial agencies in the country saying it would ensure future electoral processes are closely monitored.