, NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 16 – The High Court has ruled that the Mass Voter Registration (MVR) will continue until February 19, 2017.
Justice Chacha Mwita directed that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should close the exercise after the extra three days.
“After hearing all the submissions in this petition, I direct that the Mass Voter Registration should continue until February 19, 2017 after which the exercise shall stand closed,” he ruled.
The ruling was issued in a case filed by activist Okiya Omtatah, who wanted voter registration to continue until two months to the August elections.
Omtatah argued that closing it at this point will lock out many potential voters who have not received their National ID cards or passports.
He contended that the timelines issued by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission “are arbitrary and anchored on unreasonable thinking.”
“The timelines given by the electoral body are very unreasonable and should not be used as an excuse to stop the registration of voters,” he stated.
The exercise was targeting six million new voters in the hope of having up to 22 million Kenyans participate in the August Election.
The activist had also raised several other pertinent issues, which the court will now hear from March 2.
He is seeking to have the court compel IEBC to register voters using birth certificates and expired passports.
According to him, separate registrations for examinations, Identity Cards, Kenya Revenue Authority PIN numbers and passports are unreasonable and a waste of public funds.
The electoral body’s lawyer Eric Gumbo had indicated that the fact that the MVR was stopped did not mean that continuous voter registration will not go on at constituency level.
“The IEBC did the first phase of Mass Voter Registration. This did not stop the continuous voter registration which has been ongoing,” he said.
“The initiative to have Mass Voter Registration was a proactive move by the IEBC to encourage people register as voters. The IEBC can only do so much.”
He stated that any change in the timelines set has far-reaching implication which would also be very expensive to the taxpayer.
He explained that the processes that go into the register must be accurate and accountable and this requires time.