, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 17 – Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Mutula Kilonzo is now rooting for general elections in March 2013.
Kilonzo, who had been previously pushing for a December 2012 poll, told Capital News that Kenyans needed more time to prepare for the forthcoming polls and that a December date would still be rushed.
He noted that the additional time created by holding the polls early next year would help ensure that the country conducted nationwide electronic voter registration in a timely and affordable manner.
He also argued that a 2013 election would help Kenyans put in place the necessary precautions and logistics that would prevent a repeat of the deadly 2007/08 post election violence.
“I don’t want to participate in another flawed election and I know that a December election would still be tight for Kenyans so now that a window has been created for an election in March, I am even more excited,” he said.
He claimed that the extra time created would help cut costs required for the procurement of electoral equipment at a cost of Sh9 billion.
“If you register voters either manually or electronically, within a period of 30 or 45 days, it means you have to buy equipment for the whole country at the same time. But if you had three months, you can cluster the former provinces into batches and buy equipment for each batch at a time,” he argued.
Kilonzo further urged President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga not to dissolve the grand coalition government until the current Parliament completes its term on January 14, paving the way for elections within 60 days.
Speaking to Capital News, Kilonzo argued that the National Accord and the coalition government could only be dissolved when the term of the current Parliament drew to a close or when one of the coalition partners pulled out of the coalition.
He urged the two principals to extend the timelines of the grand coalition until next year rather than terminate them in order to ensure Kenyans were adequately prepared for the forthcoming polls.
Kilonzo further faulted the High Court ruling on the election date saying it should not have solely placed the fate of the next polls on the two principals.
“I must admit that I take issue with the interpretation that my two bosses can just sit down somewhere in a room and decide that they are dissolving the National Accord because it is not just some sort of a marriage,” he quipped.
Kilonzo also rubbished the possibility of the Grand Coalition Management Committee meeting over the issue, saying the committee had become moribund.
He instead called for the formation of an ad-hoc Cabinet Committee over the issue adding that it would also be advisable to seek guidance from Parliament’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee or the Constitution Implementation Oversight Committee.
“The representative for ODM was Miguna Miguna while the one for PNU was Kivutha Kibwana; these two men could never agree – even on their names. We could never agree on anything and then now someone says we should meet. No, that can’t happen,” he stressed.
“In fact we haven’t met for the last two years,” he observed.
He also maintained that he would not withdraw the Cabinet-sponsored Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, which is currently before Parliament.
He argued that the Bill not only sought to shed light on the uncertainty surrounding the date of the forthcoming polls but also those in the distant future. The Bill also seeks to clarify the constitutional provision on gender as well as the issue touching on the 80 new electoral units, which are currently under review.
Kilonzo added that he would not synchronise the Bill with the recent ruling on elections.
“If I am forced to withdraw it, and the key word here is forced, then I will do it but I will insist on having the polls in March 2013,” he said.