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Government derailing FK polls

NAIROBI, Kenya, September 20- The Interim Electoral Board claimed on Tuesday that the Government is holding up the country’s eagerly anticipated Football Kenya polls.

According to Joe Okwatch, the chairman of the Board mandated to organise the elections, The State was yet to remit $130,000 (Sh12.48m) to the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) that will conduct the polls.

Okwatch further announced the poll date would be announced Wednesday by IIEC if the Government confirms it had deposited the amount at the commission’s account by close of business on Tuesday.

“Unlike us (IEB) who have not been operating with funds, the IIEC needs the money to begin printing out election material and other logistics. We have agreed with them all the venues and we shall publish the electoral register,” Okwatch told reporters.

He added: “If it was our wish, we would have held the elections yesterday but without the money, this is not possible but I understand the Government has been sourcing for funds and should this be done, the elections should be held by the end of the month.”

The chair also declared that world governing body Fifa had already wired the $100,000 (Sh9.6m) it had pledged for the exercise.

“As you know, Fifa representative, Leondegar Tenga has been in the country almost three times a week and we have been making all arrangements that are now complete. The only issue remaining is the dissatisfaction of some candidates who were pressing for branch officials likely to vote for them to be included in the register.”

Okwatch charged IEB that would play an oversight role during the elections had drawn up 19 branches and all cleared candidates would run the election.

“During the campaign period, some candidates cut deals with others and came to us wishing to withdraw from running for certain positions in favour of others. We expected this and we have stood firm that candidates will vie for the positions they were cleared.”

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In a veiled warning to the Government that he asked to expedite the process of releasing the funds, the chair expressed, “The IIEC itself is in flax since in the requirements of the new constitution, the whole body will be disbanded and they need to conduct this exercise as soon as possible.”

Okwatch said the parties would meet on Wednesday to chart a way forward as the September 10 deadline set by Sports Minister, Dr. Paul Otuoma, elapsed without the ballot taking place.

He ruled out comprehensive civic education ahead of the polls as IEB had initially proposed saying, “Civic education requires budgetary allocation and this was not possible. However, the cost of the elections drawn up by the IIEC will cover some measure of education though not at the scale we expected.”

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