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IIEC to host forum on stalled Elections Bill

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 15 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) will hold a special forum with stakeholders and experts on Saturday to iron out outstanding issues in the Elections Bill.

While speaking to journalists in Nairobi on Wednesday, Chairman Hassan Issack explained that the meeting would bring together experts from South Africa and Norway to particularly discuss gender representation provision in the Bill.

He argued that it was necessary to work out exactly how the one-third gender balance would be met as well as the required representation for marginalised communities.

"We have to meet the one-third women representation provision in the National and County Assemblies because if we don\’t then those bodies will be unconstitutional and will be unable to transact business," he said.

"This provision is actually a very hard nut to crack and we are still working on it," he added.

Mr Issack also revealed that the IIEC would convene another meeting with the taskforce on devolution aimed at incorporating county governments\’ elections into the Elections Bill. He reiterated remarks made by the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution admitting that the devolution taskforce was stalling the Elections Bill.

"It is also true that the taskforce on devolution has put a stop to this Bill and they are saying that we must take their views into account before it can go to Parliament," he said.

He however assured Kenyans that all the electoral laws required for next year\’s elections would be ready by August 27, this year, and there was no cause for alarm.

The Political Parties Bill is still waiting for the Cabinet\’s approval before it can be tabled in Parliament. The Campaigns Financing Bill which is also required for next year\’s elections is still being prepared.

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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Bill, which will in turn constitute the country\’s electoral body, is waiting for presidential assent after Parliament passed it in March. The Bill will also conclude the contentious delimitation of constituency boundaries.

"I believe that we should not rush half baked Bills to Parliament; we may take the Political Parties Bill, which is ready. If the Elections Bill is delayed because of these critical issues, I think that should not be a cause for concern," argued Mr Issack.

He also said that voter registration would commence after the IEBC had been constituted. The government allocated Sh12 billion to the electoral body to enable it discharge its duties once it was formally constituted.

"We have almost eight million potential voters, according to the last census, who are still not registered. And then we have about three million voters who live abroad so these are things that must be worked out," he said.

Meanwhile the Kenya Institute of Education has prepared the draft Voter Education Curriculum which seeks to create awareness on future electoral processes in the country. The draft needs to include timelines within which certain tasks must be carried out as well as assign roles to specific electoral officers.

Mr Issack added that the curriculum would also have to incorporate the electoral Bills in order to become more conclusive. He also said that the commission would only be able to roll out proper civic education after the IEBC was constituted.

"This document is a work in progress and once these Bills are passed into law then we will revise the draft. The title is just a generic title; electoral reforms Bills can be covered as a separate entity in the curriculum," he said.

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