NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 10 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo says time is fast running out for Kenya to fully prepare for a general election next year.
Kilonzo noted that the new electoral body requires four months after being sworn in to delineate 80 new constituencies before any election preparations can be made, yet it had not yet been established.
He added that after the gazettement of the new constituencies, an additional four months will be set aside to settle any arising disputes before voter registration can take place.
Interviews for commissioners to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will be completed on October 10 paving the way for that for the position of chairman. Although Kilonzo noted that the exact date when the new body would be in place remained uncertain, he estimated that it could be ready by mid-next month.
“Kenyans will have one month to raise any objections they may have with the new boundaries at the Courts. After that the Judiciary will be given 30 days to determine these disputes and it is only at the end of that period that we can start voter registration,” he explained.
“Now if you calculate all those months, you end up with May or maybe even July before we can start voter registration,” he noted.
Kilonzo further observed that the IEBC would have to set aside about two months for voter registration in addition to one month for Kenyans to inspect the registers.
He added that it was only after the voter registration process was concluded that the procurement of electoral equipment as well as recruitment of electoral officers could take place.
“During the referendum Kenyans had 45 days to register but I doubt whether that will be enough for next year’s elections because we want to mop up all voters in this country and we still have to inspect the registers,” he said.
Members of Parliament are also divided over when the elections should be held and Harun Mwau (Kilome) has already gone to Court seeking an election in 2013. In addition, the Constitution calls for an August election but several politicians feel that it will eat into their term.
Kilonzo has already published a Bill seeking to amend the constitutional provision on an August election so that the date can be moved to December. The Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution (CIC) has already registered its disapproval of the move.
The Justice Minister further dismissed a report released by the CIC last week indicating its concerns with proposals to amend the law. He also warned pollsters against releasing unsubstantiated survey results over constitutional matters.
Last week, three non-governmental bodies released poll results indicating that Kenyans were steadily losing focus on the constitutional implementation process.
“I watch the debate on the election date with a lot of shock but sometimes I laugh because the people making some of these misleading statements know the law yet they still make some of the statements they make. My concerns surround the practicality of all these,” he maintained.
He also said that he would operationalise the Political Parties Act by November 1 to facilitate the upcoming by elections for Kitutu Masaba constituency and 11 civic wards, scheduled for November 28.
He added that he would also operationalise the Elections Act by December 2.
Kilonzo who was speaking on the sidelines of a conference on national values also challenged Kenyans to embrace these values so as to ensure they are implemented.
“You are bound by the values in the Constitution; you cannot deduct them. You must internalise them, discuss them and fertilise them with more ideas so that this country can realise the dream we have,” he said.
He added that he would not extend the timelines set for the taskforce on national values, which is chaired by Samuel Katia. The taskforce has already formulated a draft policy on the realisation of national values.
Among the things that it proposes is that the values of patriotism, human dignity and rights as well as social justice be included in the 8-4-4 curriculum.
Katia also challenged Kenyans to live to the constitutional demands on national values.