NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 15 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has said it will announce the exact date of the next general elections “soon”, to end widespread anxiety in the country.
IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan indicated that the elections will be held after the term of the current Parliament expires on January 14, 2013.
He said the commission wrote to President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga asking if they intended to dissolve the coalition government for elections to be held this year, but no reply has been forthcoming.
“In the absence of the reply from the two coalition principals, it leaves us with no choice but to come up with an election date,” Hassan told a forum of civil society and other organisations, including media practitioners that gathered at a breakfast meeting with the commission in Nairobi to get a brief of the election preparedness.
He added: “We have seen the coalition partners speaking at various forums but this cannot be taken to be a reply to our letter to them,” Hassan said. “We are going with the assumption that they have no reply. We are therefore going with the assumption that it is Parliament to finish its term… so we will base our date on that.”
Since MPs in the 10th Parliament were sworn in on January 14, 2008, their term ends on January 14, 2013.
Based on his announcement on Thursday, the IEBC will set the election date within 60 days after the dissolution of the National Assembly at the end of its term as stipulated under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The election date the commission is likely to announce will fall anywhere between January and March 2013.
“The commission is consulting within and without before setting the election date. This will be made public very soon, we want to announce the date to end the anxiety,” the IEBC chief said. “We will determine the election date based on the constitutional court ruling.”
In January, a three-judge bench ruled that an election date would be determined if the two partners decided to dissolve the coalition government which was formed after the disputed presidential poll of 2007 or at the end of the term of 10th Parliament.
When President Kibaki spoke about the possible election date at a forum in Sagana last week, he only hinted at a 2013 election, ending speculation of any possibility of him arriving at a decision of dissolving the coalition government any time soon to pave way for an early poll.
His coalition partner Prime Minister Raila Odinga has equally spoken lately at various forums about the election date, only urging for calm and patience amongst Kenyans before the actual poll date is announced.
On Thursday, the electoral and boundaries body announced it was putting final touches on a raft of mechanisms aimed at ensuring a free and fair election, which includes a total overhaul of the election regulations to replace the one developed by the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya in 1992.
Hassan told the gathering mainly consisting of civil society groups with a keen interest on a fair election in Kenya that his commission would be strict on all the election regulations, including putting up a department to investigate and prosecute electoral offences.
“We have the powers to impound public resources used in campaigns, including minister’s official vehicles,” he said.
And as part of the commission’s preparedness to the much awaited poll, the IEBC intends to hold a mock election in Malindi and Kajiado North.
“This mock election will help us gauge our level of preparedness and the level of preparedness of the Kenyans themselves and any other participants,” he said.
He termed as “dangerous” plans by a civil society organisation to conduct mock elections in six counties in Coast Province.
“This will be very risky, and I hope you don’t intend to use real politicians as candidates,” Hassan warned.