NAIROBI, Kenya, May 26 – Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairperson Wafula Chebukati Tuesday said the five by-elections which were postponed as a result of the coronavirus outbreak will be held under extensive social distancing guidelines to be developed by the poll agency.
The by-elections for Kahawa Wendani ward in Kiambu county, Dabaso ward in Kilifi county, Kisumu North ward in Kisumu county, Wundanyi Mbale ward in Taita Taveta county and Msambweni constituency in Kilifi county were postponed after the government imposed restrictions on gatherings in measures to combat the spread of COVID-19.
Chebukati noted the electoral commission was working on a program which will see the elections conducted once the current COVID-19 containment measures including the dusk-to-dawn curfew and cessation of movement in five counties are scaled down.
“We understand the people of the respective wards and constituency need representation in Parliament and county assembly. Immediately, the situation improves and the country is opened up and curfew lifted,our team is working on a program to have the elections during and post-COVID-19,” he said during an interview at Citizen Television.
Chebukati said IEBC will liaise with the Ministry of Health to identify best ways to conduct the elections in a COVID-19 environment which minimizes human to human contact.
“Elections involve human to human contact,we are looking at a situation where we have an election in this environment, we are talking about keeping social distancing, using sanitizers and face masks and that is what our team is working on,” he added.
The IEBC chair said new dates for the by-elections will be announced in the coming months.
“When curfew and other activities are scaled down, we shall embark on this program and set new dates for this by-elections,” Chebukati added.
The Kahawa Wendani MCA seat fell vacant after Cyrus Omondi died in February. Similarly, the Wundanyi/Mbale MCA seat fell vacant following Beatrice Mwabili demise.
Msambweni constituency seat fell vacant in March following Suleiman Dori’s death.
Dabaso Ward MCA Emmanuel Changawa’s lost his seat after the Court of Appeal nullified his election in November 2019 while in Kisumu, Elisha Araro resigned his seat as Kisumu North MCA to vie for County Assembly Speaker.