NAIROBI, Kenya Mar 17 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says it is ready to conduct the national referendum set to take place in June.
The electoral agency Chairman Wafula Chebukati while submitting the commission’s views on the Building Bridges Initiative Bill (BBI) at the joint Parliamentary committee of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee however, admitted that the only hurdle in executing the exercise was the unavailability of funds.
“We are ready when it comes, the commission has already projected the referendum operations plan and internally we have already thought of how it will be conducted. All structures are in place safe that we cannot do procurement on some of the items needed until we get a budget,” he said.
In Chebukati’s estimation, the plebiscite will cost at least Sh13.7 billion, estimations that have since been dismissed by ODM Party Leader Raila Odinga who contends that the exercise will only require Sh2 billion.
Chebukati further submitted that the commission, as currently constituted,is equal to the task noting that the vacancy which was left by four commissioners who existed the commission should not be an issue.
“The commission is intact and come the referendum, the boundaries review and the 2022 General Election, we are ready to perform our mandate under the Constitution,” he said.
During the presentation, Chebukati questioned the constitutionality of the proposal that touches on the increment of the 70 constituencies where he revealed that the commission was never consulted by the drafters and promoters of the BBI document.
He noted that whereas the legality on adding the constitution is not in doubt, he faulted the proponents of the Bill for unilaterally making it their mandate to allocate constituencies to certain counties.
“The work of allocating those constituencies to certain counties is purely the work of the commission,” he said.
Chebukati said that if the Bill is passed in its current form where 28 counties stand to gain constituencies, it will present a legal challenge in court and consequently have an effect on the legality of the referendum.
“In the event the Bill is passed as it is, it will contradict the existing provisions of the Constitution thereby presenting possible legal challenges to the delimitation process which is ordinarily the work of the commission,” he said.
In the proposed BBI Bill, Nairobi County is the biggest gainer as it stands to gain an additional of 12 constituencies.
The BBI Bill which is currently under the public participation stage will be debated by the bicameral Parliament and once approved and assented into law, President Uhuru Kenyatta will direct the electoral body to prepare for a referendum that will see Kenyans decide the fate of the document. It was approved by more than 40 County Assemblies.