, NAIROBI, Kenya, Nov 17 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission secretariat has expressed concerns that time is running out before new IEBC Commissioners take office.
IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba told Capital FM News that it was unclear when the new Commissioners will take office yet there are only eight months before the next General Election.
“If you compare this period and the period we were in 2012, we are really walking on dangerous ground. The exiting commissioners came into office about 18 months before the elections. They had to do a lot of things to prepare for the elections. Now we are half that time, we do not know when the new commissioners are going to come and we still expect to have elections on August 8, 2017,” he posed.
Whereas the secretariat is efficiently preparing for the elections, Chiloba explained that it still had to wait for the new IEBC Commissioners to take office to approve critical policies and oversee their mandatory roles that cannot be done without them.
For example, in case of a by-election, the secretariat can only conduct it but not gazette the announcement since only the IEBC commissioners are empowered with that role.
With about eight months to go before the election, the process of appointing new commissioners is far from over.
It was only on Thursday that the selection panel invited views of the public on the suitability of five applicants shortlisted for the position of the IEBC Chairperson.
Their interviews will begin in the last week of November meaning that the earliest time possible that the country is likely to have a new chair will be in December if at all the process of the appointment will be hastened.
Though there were some changes brought about by the amended 2006 Election Law, Chiloba explained that the commission was already working to ensure that all the new requirements were met.
Some of the changes included an effect on its budget which now has to feature additional 23,000 polling stations not included in the Sh19.8 billion election budget.
The amended Act limits the number of voters per polling station to 500 leading to an increase in the number of polling stations from 33,000 to 56,000.
The law that came into effect on October 4, 2016 also had affected the Election Operation Plan (EOP) of the election preparation which had led to the postponement of the mass voter registration to February next year.
The new law also dictates that political parties can approach IEBC to conduct their party nominations, a role that Chiloba said the commission can do but on condition that parties adhere to a checklist that will be distributed to parties by December.
Even so, the party nomination by IEBC provision had several gray areas such as the funding to IEBC to conduct nominations.
Despite the changes, Chiloba re-assured Kenyans that the commission was committed to ensuring that the 2017 General Election will be free and fair.
“Our role is to mediate the competing interest in the political process and we cannot be in competition with those who are competing for power. Our business is to ensure that Kenyans have a credible election, come 2017,” he assured.
Chiloba further urged Kenyans to have faith with the commission explaining that mechanisms had been put in place to insulate the electoral process from any interference.