, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 1 – Local electoral observers have raised concerns that Kenya is not ready for the March 4, 2013 general election, hours after the long awaited Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits arrived in the country.
A Programmes Officer at the Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA) Willis Otieno said that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (lEBC) needs to take responsibility for the delay in meeting the timelines.
“If you ask me if we are prepared to hold the elections as per the Justice Krieger Commission recommendations, I would say we are not prepared. Six months into an elections cycle, we do not have the most important thing; a voters register!” he said.
Otieno said Ghana which is expected to go to the polls in December had completed its political parties nomination process and supply of the BVR kits by January.
Otieno, who is part of the observer mission to the Ghana polls added; “In January all the election materials for Ghana had been procured. The elections commission had put in place sufficient mechanisms at any time such that even the death of the President John Atta Mills did not in any way affect the process of preparations. Only that it made them demonstrate the state of preparedness.”
He added that it was unlikely that IEBC had factored in the logistical problems that come with BVR even as they rush to beat election preparedness timelines.
“The challenge we must address now is the logistical nightmare that will involve the delicate process that is distributing to the polling or registration centres.”
“You may end up having kits that are not functional. Bear in mind we are working on a precipice, where everyday must be counted, that if we delayed by one day, that one day will eat into the timelines that the IEBC has developed for the general election,” he cautioned.
Kimani wa Wanjiru from Uraia Trust added that if elections are not well managed and institutionalised, they are capable of reducing a nation to a constant state of socio-economic and political instability.
They were speaking during a media roundtable on election preparedness organised by Internews.
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