NAIROBI, Kenya, Feb 14 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Friday said it was ready to begin a nationwide boundaries review process in March once National Treasury avails funds.
The poll agency is required in law to conclude the process by July 2021 – 12 months to the 2022 general election – for the changes in constituency and ward boundaries to apply.
In a statement to newsrooms, IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati noted that the exiting boundaries, having been gazette on March 7, 2012, were due for a review in March which marks the beginning of the eight years intervals provided for under Article 89 of the Constitution (2010).
“The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall review the names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than twelve years, but any review shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election of members of Parliament,” it reads.
IEBC said an elaborate plan had already been developed to ensure a seamless process once funds are availed.
“In preparation for the review, the Commission has developed a Boundaries Review Operations Plan (BROP) which provides a roadmap for the exercise. The Commission also initiated capacity building of its staff, procurement of requisite tools and conduct of a pilot boundaries review,” Chebukati said.
He however stressed that the process which will be guided by data from the 2019 national census from Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS), could only kick off once funds are availed.
KNBS is also yet to formally publish results of the 2019 census released by President Uhuru Kenyatta in November 2019.
IEBC can review “the number, names, and boundaries of wards periodically” but cannot add the number of constituencies or alter the boundaries of counties.
Article 89 (1) provides for only 290 constituencies “for the purposes of the election of the members of the National Assembly.”
Among factors to consider during a boundary review exercise are the population quota, geographical features and urban centres, community interest, historical and cultural ties.
The number of inhabitants in a constituency or ward is required to be as nearly, equal to, the population quota and “may be greater or lesser to the quota by a margin of not more than (a) forty per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas; and (b) thirty per cent for the other areas.”
The Constitution requires the poll agency to consult all interested parties during a review process before renaming constituencies and wards and publishing the same in the Gazette.
A citizen can move to the High Court to have the review of a boundary relooked at.
“An application for the review of a decision made under this Article shall be filed within thirty days of the publication of the decision in the Gazette and shall be heard and determined within three months of the date on which it is filed,” Article 89 (11) states.