NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 29- Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) Party Leader Raila Odinga has lashed out at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for estimating the cost of the upcoming referendum at Sh14 billion.
Odinga, who has been castigating IEBC since 2013 General Election, said the electoral body should be overhauled and streamlined.
“A statement attributed to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) that the upcoming referendum will cost up to Ksh14 billion is the latest indication that the electoral body and the entire election management in Kenya must be overhauled and streamlined,” he said, and accused the electoral body of exaggerating the cost to rip off the taxpayer.
“Elections have become one of the major avenues for ripping off the country through various schemes that are never meant to save costs or yield credible results but to line pockets of individuals. Those schemes are evident in the IEBC’s latest reasoning,” he said.
According to Odinga, the country should be able to conduct a one ballot referendum at no more than Sh2 billion for 20 million voters.
Odinga, who has championed for a constitutional change through the Building Bridges Initiative which was launched on Monday, added that a team will be picked to sit with IEBC and itemize what will lead to a cost-effective referendum exercise and elections.
“The Sh14 billion the IEBC is talking about is not only outrageous but also a manifestation of the institution’s insensitivity to the changes Kenyans are crying for in the management of public affairs,” said Odinga
While appearing before the National Assembly Public Accounts Committee on Wednesday, IEBC acting Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein said a referendum to change the Constitution and adopt the Building Bridges Initiative proposals will cost taxpayers at least Sh14 billion.
Marjan said the money will cater for the election officials who consist of Presiding Officers and their deputies, clerks and a minimum two police officers for every polling station.
Kenya is gearing up for a national referendum to change the Constitution promulgated in 2010, in what has sparked divided President Uhuru Kenyatta and Odinga on one side and Deputy President William Ruto on the other.