, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 20 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Friday raised alarm over the political backlash emanating from the preliminary report on delimitation of boundaries, saying it could derail preparations for the next polls.
IEBC’s Director in charge of Voter Registration and Electoral Operations Immaculate Kassait called for sobriety as the electoral body continued gathering public views on the boundaries saying there was no need to politicise the already emotive topic.
She further expressed concern at the risk of possible court litigation over the process, as some politicians and communities clamored for more constituencies and wards.
Kassait added that the IEBC would engage politicians through the Political Parties Liaison committee to give politicians the space to air out their concerns as a means of preventing Court injunctions.
“We would also like to encourage Kenyans to appreciate that there is a limited envelope of 290 constituencies and there is also a limited ceiling of 1,450 wards. So what can we do to get them and remain within the law?” she asked.
She maintained that the IEBC would limit itself to the population quotas referred to in the Constitution and would not create new boundaries for regions that did not meet the required threshold.
Kassait also expressed concerns over the challenges of facilitating community interests while at the same time observing the provisions of the Constitution. In some instances clan politics play out with local leaders insisting that their communities cannot be divided.
She added that the IEBC was also facing time constraints as it was required to finalise the process within four months.
“There are 210 constituencies that are protected, among them 27 that fall outside the population quota, but we cannot touch them so we must figure out how to create the new boundaries while constraining ourselves to the population quotas,” she explained.
Lamu, North Horr, Ndaragwa, Mathioya, Mogotio are listed as some of the constituencies that have a population quota that is below par.
She further defended the electoral body from accusations of copy pasting the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) report saying the IEBC was only supposed to deal with issues arising from the first review.
Kassait argued that the IEBC had to use the IIBRC report as its primary source of reference while using the parliamentary report on boundaries as its second which limited the extent to which it could create new electoral units.
She however revealed that the IEBC would come up with its own proposals after concluding the ongoing public hearings, which kicked off on January 16 before they are concluded on January 26.
“It’s only fair that we hear what people have to say based on the principles of consultations, responsiveness, equitability and all other principles of boundary delimitation so that we can be able to make changes to the initial proposal,” she explained.
Even after the public hearings are closed, the IEBC will continue taking written submissions from members of the public until the end of January.
After the 21-day period for public participation, the commission will take 14 days to look into any concerns raised before considering them in the final report. The report will then be forwarded to the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which will again take another 14 days to scrutinise before presenting it in Parliament.
Members of Parliament will then have seven days to debate the report and adopt it with or without amendments after which it will be returned to the IEBC for an extra 14 days before it is gazetted and published.
After this, Kenyans will get another 30 days to raise their objections at the High Court which is expected to hear and determine such disputes within three months from the date they were filed.
Only then can the IEBC proceed to map out the new electoral units for purposes of voter registration and other electoral processes.