NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 19 – Education Minister Sam Ongeri on Monday said learning in schools will not be interrupted should elections be held in March next year as announced by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Speaking during the opening of an education forum in Nairobi, Ongeri explained that the half-term break will be scheduled to coincide with March 4, 2013 to enable a smooth election.
The electoral commission normally uses schools as polling centres and those opposed to elections being held next year argue that voting while schools are in session will interfere with learning.
“The General Election takes place only once every five years. As the Education Ministry, we know that the polls will take place in March next year. What we will do now is to change the term period so that the half term can be pushed forward a little bit so that they can go on half term, the exercise takes place for two days and that’s it,” he said.
He further expressed support for the March 4 date chosen by the electoral body.
“Once the electoral commission has ruled on the date of the election, the only way you can change it is to go to Parliament or to go to the Supreme Court to have it changed,” he said.
He emphasised that there should be no rush to hold the elections in December.
“This (March) will be a good time because during this December period that many people are saying the polls should be held, many students are doing their examinations in October and November and the atmosphere then will not be conducive for them,” he said.
He also described the elections as a historic process and emphasised the need for measures to be put in place to accommodate it.
Gatanga Member of Parliament Peter Kenneth is in the meantime urging President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to consult and come up with an election date which is acceptable to all Kenyans.
Speaking to Capital News, the legislator said this is the only way that a December 17 election is possible.
He said that they should not disrupt the legacy of the country of conducting elections after every five years.
“The issues we are dealing with here are purely legal and can only be resolved if the two principals agree and I want to urge and appeal to them that Kenyans have grown into a legacy of having elections after every five years,” he said. “I wish they can contain us within that legacy.”
He further stressed the need to prepare well for the next polls.
“We need a transparent election. We need to prepare well for elections and we need to recreate confidence in our electoral process and I am looking forward to it,” he said.
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 two principals told the commission that they would hold a meeting on Tuesday after which they would summon the IEBC to communicate their decision.
The Court of Appeal is on Thursday this week expected to rule on an appeal filed by a women’s organisation that challenged a decision of the Constitutional Court which gave two possible scenarios for holding the elections;
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.