, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 9 – Kenyans have the next 21 days to submit their views on a preliminary report proposing the review of electoral boundaries that was launched on Monday by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The commission said it would conduct public hearings in all the 47 counties to get Kenyans’ views on the boundaries for constituencies and wards.
IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan said his team would also accept emails and written submissions hand delivered to the Constituency Election Coordination Office.
The schedules for the public hearings will be released on Tuesday.
“We are going to have eight teams going round the country to collect views from the public on what they think. The teams will go round the country for 21 days to hear out Kenyans,” he said.
However concerns have already started mounting over the report, which is almost a replica of the report prepared by the now defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC), led by Andrew Ligale.
Hassan explained that the IEBC had to use the IIBRC report as their primary reference point as required by the Constitution and didn’t have much choice. The IEBC also used the parliamentary report on the Ligale document as its second reference point.
He further asked Kenyans to exercise decorum and remain objective as they familiarised themselves with the contents of the report so as to ensure that the country attained the gains of devolution.
“Allow me to make a humble plea to all Kenyans, particularly to politicians; let us exercise restraint. The commission recognises the sensitivity of some of the issues at hand and we reiterate our devotion to diligently uphold the law,” he assured.
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 it 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.
“Kenyans will then get 30 days to raise their objections at the High Court which will take 30 days to resolve. Only then can the IEBC proceed to map out the new electoral units for purposes of voter registration and other electoral processes,” he explained.
Although the IEBC Act states that the High Court should determine any such issues within 30 days, the Constitution states that such an application shall be heard and determined within three months from the date it was filed.
Meanwhile Cabinet Ministers Musalia Mudavadi and Mutula Kilonzo have challenged Kenyans to rise above petty politics to avoid derailing the touchy process. Mudavadi further urged Kenyans to remain calm as the IEBC teams go round collecting their views on the boundaries.
“Let us not have the fellows who specialise in hopping from one County to the other purporting deliver a certain message when the commissioners start this work. Let us confine ourselves to our Counties so that issues are dealt with in the context of the Counties,” argued Mudavadi.
Several politicians were up in arms when the Ligale team published its report arguing that the concerns raised by their constituents were not addressed. The politicians accused the Ligale team of overlooking population quotas, laid out by the Constitution.
Cabinet Minister Beth Mugo (Dagoretti MP) particularly felt that it was wrong for the IIBRC to ignore calls to split her constituency while at the same time splitting other constituencies, which have equally large or smaller populations.