NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 8 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) insists the date for next year’s general election remains March 4, despite delays in the commencement of voter registration.
Although the commission has not given a definite date for listing of voters, IEBC Communications and Corporate Affairs Manager Tabitha Mutemi said on Thursday that the delay should not cause any anxiety.
In a statement, she argued that the electoral timelines must be informed by logistical and administrative realities given that there was a delay in the acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
“The electoral management body has to thoroughly inspect and test each voter registration kit before dispatching to the registration centres countrywide,” she said.
“The training of voter registration clerks must be thoroughly sufficient and each of the 30,000 clerks assessed individually to ascertain their competence in using the BVR kits,” she added.
The IEBC added that it would announce the definite voter registration dates as soon as the training session for registration officials was complete and the kits are distributed.
The commission also announced that it had dispatched the kits to the registration centres across the country as training for the 30,000 clerks and various stakeholders were expected to kick off on November 12.
“The commission did not and does not want to create any anxiety on election timeliness and processes. Whilst we work within tough conditions we wish to reassure our commitment to conduct a transparent, free, fair and credible election,” maintained the IEBC.
The electoral body had announced that voter registration would begin on November 12 but later withdrew the notice.
Although Mutemi rejected media reports indicating that the voter registration exercise had been postponed ‘indefinitely’, it is still unclear when the exercise will begin.
The IEBC is still mum on the ripple effect that this delay will have on the general election, which is slated for March 4, next year.
“This (media) statement creates an impression of uncertainty. It is also alarming and implies that the commission does not bear a focus and a bearing on the March 4 2013 general election,” she argued.
The National Alliance (TNA) and the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) have already expressed their concerns with the shift in the registration dates.
They both want the IEBC to make a firm commitment on when the exercise will be conducted to placate any anxieties that could arise.
“Initially TNA had planned to have our nominations on December 10 and with an indefinite voter registration period that is no longer possible. So we feel that given the timelines in the Elections Act unless amendments are moved and approved we will not be able to meet them,” argued nominated MP Amina Abdallah on Wednesday.
“We intend to move those amendments so that we are able to be within timelines and to ensure that elections are held as scheduled,” she revealed.
The ODM added that it was necessary to make adequate preparations on the polls and to keep Kenyans in the loop.
“As a party we do not expect and we shall not accept the election date to be changed even by one minute,” said ODM Parliamentary Group Secretary Ababu Namwamba.
The commission had also been challenged by Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa to be issuing weekly updates on elections preparations.
If the voters’ registration exercise started on November 12, it would go on until December 12 after which the voters’ register will be open for inspection for another month beginning January 4, 2013.