NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has set December 17 this year as an alternative date for the next General Election.
IEBC Chief Electoral Officer James Oswago told Capital FM’s Talk 360 show on Sunday that the commission had an elections operation plan that has put mechanisms ready to conduct an election this year should any of the arms of government reverse their March 4, 2013 date.
“This commission can deliver an election in December. The chairman (Issack Hassan) said if the principals told us to do the elections in December or if the courts ruled for a December election, we would be ready to comply,” said Oswago.
The polls body announced on Saturday that the next General Election will be held on March 4 next year after the President and PM failed to agree on an earlier date. The courts have yet to rule in pending cases on the poll date.
“If the Court of Appeal decides on another date, we will abide by that. If Parliament exercises its legislative discretion and comes up with a date, we will abide by that. If the two principals agree on a date, we will abide by that because our statement was made in default. It is not the business of the electoral management body to set election dates,” Oswago said.
Oswago revealed that the IEBC had held a meeting with President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga last week, during which it became apparent that the two were not yet in agreement on whether to dissolve the coalition or allow Parliament to run its full term which is set to expire on January 15 next year.
“Before meeting with the principals, we wrote a letter. After the first letter, to which we did not get a response, we wrote a second letter,” he said, insisting that the president and the PM had not communicated to the commission in writing despite making public pronouncements on their preferred elections date.
The principals told the commission that they would hold a meeting on Tuesday after which they would summon the IEBC to communicate their decision.
“You might fault the commission by asking why we didn’t wait for the Tuesday meeting before announcing the date. Our thinking was we could wait, but if by Friday the two had views that had concretised over the previous months, it sounded improbable for them to agree,” he said.
“However, if we are told that a happy conclusion has been reached, we would be ready to comply.”
The High Court earlier this year ruled that the next general election could be set under two scenarios;
The first was if the two principals agreed in writing to dissolve the coalition government, while the second option was after the expiry of the current term of Parliament on January 15 next year. In either scenario, the IEBC should conduct an election within 60 days.
The court decision has been roundly condemned as having failed to settle the confusion surrounding the date of the next general election.