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IEBC concerned at rising political temperatures ahead of polls

Kenya is preparing for election set for August 2017.

NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 22 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Thursday appealed for sobriety among the political class as the country was gearing up for the August 2017 General Election which was barely eight months away.

The commission was particularly concerned that the electoral process had been politicised sparking controversy and animosity at the risk of ignoring tenets of decorum required for peaceful and democratic elections.

“The country is witnessing unwarranted grand standing among political players on key issues that touch on the electoral process. This is not helpful and will not be helpful. It is eight months to the next General Election. It is the duty of each actor, especially political leaders, to give Kenyans reasons to be hopeful with elections. This will require sobriety in debates, tolerance and respect for the rule of law,” IEBC explained in a statement.

The electoral body further regretted that its recommendations intended to boost efficiency in the management and delivery of credible elections had been misinterpreted despite it holding consultations with all relevant stakeholders.

It was its explanation that IEBC throughout its plan for the 2017 General Election had opened its debates and consultations to stakeholders such as Parliament, civil society groups, media, political parties and among others religious leaders.

“In the last few weeks, the IEBC has attempted to reach out to the key players in this process. What is evident is that there are issues of concern which must be addressed. However, there is no unanimity on the mechanism of addressing them. We have listened to neutral voices on this matter.”

“The meeting, which was attended by members from both the Government and Opposition coalitions, demonstrated the spirit of bi-partisanship. The members agreed that they would explore agreeable amendments to address the legal gaps in the law. Further, the Committee tasked the IEBC and CA to look into options that would increase network and report findings to Parliament by January 20, 2017.”

But despite the attempts to ensure the process is consultative and inclusive, the commission was concerned that the election process had still drawn extensive controversy.

The latest was the ugly scenes witnessed on Wednesday around Parliament after the opposition and Jubilee MPs failed to pass amendments to provide for transmission of results and identification of voters in case technology failed and an amendment to the Elections Campaign Finance Regulations to allow candidates in the 2017 elections two months to submit a list of their campaign finance management committees instead of eight months.

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READ: Parliament to re-convene Thursday after chaotic session

The amendments were however adopted on Thursday after the Speaker called for a second sitting.

IEBC’s cause of worry further emanated from the controversy that led the NGOs Coordination Board to cancel a Sh2 billion civic education project funded by USAID.

The commission said it had received electoral assistance from 11 international development partners including USAID and the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) which has been at the centre of the row.

READ: Govt cancels Sh2bn civic education project by USAID

The commission explained that the partnership between IEBC and international partners was “according to the principles of national sovereignty and national ownership of the electoral process but not to influence voting decisions of Kenyans.”

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