NAIROBI, Kenya, May 23 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has warned that presidential aspirants who fail to adhere to the Elections Act (2016) will be edged out of the August 8 contest.
In a meeting with presidential hopefuls or their representatives on Tuesday, IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati said candidates must ensure that signatories backing their bids are drawn from their respective political parties in the case of those nominated or are not affiliated to any political party in the case of those who wish to run as independent candidates.
“According to the Elections Act, the persons who nominate a presidential candidate shall be members of the candidate’s political party and those who nominate an independent presidential candidate shall not be members of any political party. As a Commission we cannot now come and say let us do away with these requirements unilaterally,” he said.
Chebukati dismissed claims that the Commission had failed to act on provisions of the legislation that are defective, urging those who feel offended by the law to move to court and seek advisory opinions or nullification of the said pieces of legislation.
“Parliament made laws to operationalise provisions of the Constitution. We’ve done our best to follow the law but where the law is inconsistent cases have been filed in court and the court has pronounced itself,” he pointed out while saying the Commission was committed to implementing court orders.
Chebukati was responding to questions by a number of presidential candidates who raised concerns over what they said were provisions that were inconsistent with the Constitution since they undermined the right of those aspiring to offer their candidature from doing so.
The Thirdway Alliance presidential nominee Ekuru Aukot for instance faulted the Commission for relying on an interpretation which is not in sync with the supreme law of the country as stipulated in Article 137 of the Constitution.
“A person qualifies as a presidential candidate if the person is nominated by not fewer than two thousand voters from each of a majority of the counties,” reads section 1d of Article 137.
“Presidential candidates should not just appeal to members of political parties but to the nation because one doesn’t just become a president of a political party,” Aukot, a constitutional expert argued while building a case for the need to alter the requirement.
Most of independent aspirants who spoke at the meeting expressed frustrations with the Commission, most saying it would be difficult for an independent candidate to gather two thousand signatures in each of at least 24 counties.
“We’re are trying to put in technicalities to knock out people with. Every time the Commission has been trying to change goal post and we’re really getting agitated,” Stephen Awoko, an independent aspirant who is also an evangelist complained.
“Some of the requirements beat logic. Somebody could be in Jubilee Party or ODM but they want to support you. It is tricky and hard but if one wants to lead this country, they should be able to get them,” Abduba Dida, a second time contender who intends to run under the Tunza Coalition told Capital FM News.
Even as the debate on the collection of signatures by independents raged on, IEBC was forced to come clean on allegations that it was giving other candidates an upper hand due to their perceived political muscle.
Chebukati dismissed the claims saying all candidates are equal and will be treated as such.
“All candidates are equal and for us as IEBC; when someone presents their credentials and they’re accepted, they are a presidential candidate and there is no two horse race or something like that,” he said.
Chebukati said the Commission was in talks with media houses to ensure candidates are given equal coverage and utterances such and ‘two-horse race’ meant to depict other candidates as having no relevance other than two candidates perceived to have a strong following are discouraged.
Other independent candidates who attended the meeting are Joseph Nyagah, Nazlin Umar, Solomon Gichira, Michael Waweru, Michael Orenge, Eliud Kiriara, Japhet Kavinga, Peter Osotsi, David Munga and Erastus Nyamera.
Other than Dida and Aukot, none of the candidates nominated to run for the presidency through various parties including Jubilee Party’s Uhuru Kenyatta, Orange Democratic Movement’s (ODM) Raila Odinga and Wiper Democratic Movement’s (WDM) Kalonzo Musyoka showed up for the meeting.
Despite the expectation that Musyoka will deputise the ODM ticket, data from the IEBC indicates that he is the presidential candidate of WDM.
Only Jubilee Party has since submitted its presidential running mate – William Ruto