, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 15 – Members of Parliament have urged the newly established Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to ensure State resources are not misused in next year’s general elections.
Speaking at a meeting with the new electoral body on Tuesday, Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee members Martha Karua (Gichugu) and John Mbadi (Gwassi) said the electoral body had the responsibility of protecting tax payers’ resources from wastage.
The two noted that public resources had in the past been used by politicians to conduct campaigns and other election related activities.
The MPs further called for a broader civic and voter education programme which would sensitise Kenyans on how to vote democratically in the six elective posts.
“The commission has the whip and it must act. Now we have a law that gives you the teeth; you have no more excuses so you must clean up our electoral Act,” urged Karua.
“I think that this is an area where you need to swing into action and bar people who misuse State resources from running for elective posts if they are candidates,” argued Mbadi.
CIOC Chair Abdikadir Mohammed further urged the new team to look into complaints of over staffing of the IEBC’s secretariat. The secretariat is expected to issue a schedule of activities for the IEBC, in preparation for the elections.
IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan on his part asked MPs to support his team which is charged with running the next polls, besides overseeing the demarcation of new electoral units.
He also assured Kenyans of a free and fair process, despite the uncertainty surrounding the election date.
Hassan maintained that the new electoral body would manage the forthcoming polls effectively regardless of the date at which they take place.
“When we sought for an opinion from the court, were only seeking for an election date for the upcoming elections. We never intended or wanted that elections be held in December every five years but if they are held in August, next year, we will have to compress time,” he explained.
The matter touching on the election date is currently before the High Court after the Supreme Court declined to issue an advisory opinion. The issue is also before Parliament under the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, which seeks to have polls on the third Monday of December, every five years.
Hassan added that the Bill was a welcome relief as it would resolve issues touching on gender equality, after the polls, as well as the constitutional provisions on demarcation.
“The gender issue is very important; it must be resolved by MPs because we are going to have a problem if we end up with a Parliament without that rule in force,” he stressed.
He also said that his team’s utmost concern was demarcating the 80 new constituencies in order to pave way for other electoral processes. He further revealed that the team was expected to retreat to Mombasa later in the week to figure out the way forward on the new electoral units.
“But one thing that you can be assured of is that this team is fully aware of the enormity of the work that we have been given. We cannot afford to fail; failure is not an option so we have to succeed because the country demands nothing less,” he added.
The new team is expected to demarcate the new electoral units within four months from the date of appointment. After that, Kenyans will get one month to familiarise themselves with the constituencies and raise any objections they might have.
The courts will then take another three months to resolve any upcoming issues and it is only after this process is concluded that the IEBC can start registering voters.
Hassan also called for the need for voter education saying it would run co-currently with other electoral preparations.
The government is also set to launch its own civic education programme in conjunction with non state actors to ensure that Kenyans are well informed as they head towards the next polls.