Saturday, January 7, 2012

IEBC to launch boundary report

IEBC road map
By OLIVER MATHENGE omathenge@ke.nationmedia.com

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will release its preliminary report on new constituencies and wards on Monday morning at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre in Nairobi.

The electoral management body announced on Saturday that the event will be open to the public and will be attended by donor representatives, political parties, civil society, among others.

The IEBC, which took office in November, embarked on the boundary delimitation exercise that will see constituencies in Kenya increase from 210 to 290. The process is expected to be concluded by April this year.

The Constitution limits the IEBC to use the Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission Report as its primary reference material, among other materials.

The IIBRC report had proved divisive as some regions decried what they termed uneven distribution.

According to the IIBRC proposals, Rift Valley would get 26 new constituencies, Nairobi, Nyanza and Western nine each, Eastern seven, North Eastern six, and Coast and Central four each.

This would have seen the 290 constituencies distributed as follows: Coast Province 26, North Eastern 18, Eastern 44, Central 33, Rift Valley 74, Western 33, Nyanza 42 and Nairobi 17.

Regions that have cried foul over the Ligale Commission report include Coast and parts of Eastern and Central Kenya.

However, most leaders from Rift Valley, Western and North Eastern appear comfortable with the report.

The IEBC is required to make a preliminary report and invite public views for 30 days, after which it will do a review.

This will take 14 days after which the report will be sent to the parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs.

The committee will table the report within 14 days after which Parliament will have seven days to discuss and approve it, with or without amendments.

The report will then be gazetted within 14 days, failing which whoever is responsible will have committed an offence that could attract one year in prison

The review of boundaries is tied to the registration of voters as some will have to be transferred to polling stations of their choice.

According to IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan, the commission plans to register eight million more voters (up from the registered 12.4 million).

“Waiting for the boundaries to be determined first before embarking on voter registration could mean delaying the publishing of the voters’ register and subsequently, elections,” he said.

The distribution of constituencies is important to political players eyeing the upcoming General Election as it influences control of the National Assembly by the winning party.

As one of the ways to beat the time constraints that may lock many Kenyans out of voting if elections are held in August, the IEBC says that voter registration will be conducted in 30 days with no extensions.
According to the Constitution, constituencies in cities and densely populated areas should have a minimum of 79,883 and a maximum of 186,393 inhabitants.

Constituencies in sparsely populated areas should have between 93,197 and 173,079 inhabitants. Only 84 of the current 210 constituencies fall within these ranges, according to 2009 census data.

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