The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has announced that the next General Election will be held in March 2013.
IEBC chairman Issack Hassan said that his Commission has been "compelled" to set the March 4 date since President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga have failed to agree on a date as set out in a court ruling.
"....the Commission hereby announces that the general elections will be held on Monday, March 4, 2013," said Mr Hassan during a news conference at Laico Regency Hotel, Nairobi Saturday.
He said before setting the date, the IEBC had consulted widely including approaching the principals with a view to them agreeing, in writing, to dissolve the Coalition Government and precipitate an election within 60 days. However, Mr Hassan said, the President and Mr Odinga differed.
"The Commission has consulted widely within and without, and in particular, it has consulted the two Principals with a view to actualise Option A of the Court Judgement," said the IEBC boss.
"It should be understood that this Commission has repeatedly stated that it is ready to conduct the general elections in December 2012. However, after these consultations, it has become clear to the Commission that there is no agreement between the Principals as required by the Court Judgement under Option A."
"In the circumstances, the Commission is therefore compelled to proceed with Option B of the Court Judgement which requires that we fix an election date within 60 days from the expiry of the term of the 10th Parliament," said Mr Hassan.
He said in setting the March date, the Commission had considered several electoral processes including requirement that political parties comply with the Political Parties Act 2011 by April; need for public officers intending to contest in the polls to resign at least eight months before elections; mapping of new electoral units; voter education; inspection of voters' register and procurement of electoral material.
"We appreciate and understand that there are Kenyans who may have preferred an earlier election date, but we call upon Kenyans to be understanding and support the Commission in delivering a peaceful, free, fair and credible election," said Mr Hassan.
The IEBC's announcement came just hours after Mr Odinga said he preferred a December poll.
In a statement, the PM said calls for elections next year in March were misplaced and such a move would prolong the life of Parliament beyond its current term.
"The Prime Minister prefers December to any other date for elections because it is a date Kenyans are familiar with and used to. All elections since 1992 have been held in December," said Mr Odinga Saturday.
"Even more important, the PM feels March elections will prolong the life of the current administration and the Parliament while cutting short the life of the next by several months. This, in the PM's view, is self serving and unjustifiable."
Narc Kenya leader Martha Karua also disagreed with the IEBC date saying it had pre-empted a pending appeal over the matter in court.
"Announcing a March poll when the appeal against election ruling is a few days away is a move to influence the outcome of the appeal," said on Twitter.
"The IEBC has let us down!"