Poll team under fire over new vote zones
Posted Tuesday, June 5 2012 at 22:48
Residents of North Eastern Province have turned the heat on the electoral commission, accusing it of failing to consider historical injustices when demarcating new electoral zones.
Lawyers representing petitioners from Garissa, Mandera and Wajir counties on Tuesday told a five-judge bench in Nairobi that the commission disregarded views of the locals and went ahead to publish the new boundaries, which they claimed was a violation of their rights.
Mr Evans Ondieki, for the petitioners from Lagdera constituency, told the judges that IEBC ignored the views of the elders, residents and religious leaders when it moved Bura Ward to Dujis constituency.
“Public participation is mandatory when reviewing boundaries as provided by the Constitution but the commission failed to uphold that requirement even after collecting views of local residents,” Mr Ondieki said.
He submitted that the commission acted in bad faith by calling a baraza and collecting views for three days, only to turn around and ignore them in its final report.
He said the new electoral boundaries should not be accepted in a modern democracy and urged the court to direct the commission to do another report in six months.
In petitions involving Wajir North and Wajir East constituencies, Mr Ondieki submitted that some residents were opposed to being taken to Wajir East since they were considered a minority group and would have no chance of one of their own holding any political post.
He dismissed IEBC submissions that the issues were tribal, arguing that community interest was about bringing together people with a common factor.
According to the lawyer, IEBC should be made to bear the cost of all the 125 petitions since its action was reckless.
Rejecting a proposal
Mr Stephen Mwenesi accused the commission of rejecting a proposal by Parliament to create an additional 100 wards, and dismissed its argument that it was balancing national interests as baseless.
Mr Issa Mansour, representing complainants from Mandera North, accused IEBC of moving a population of 19,900 from one electoral area to another without their approval.
Ms Kethi Kilonzo told the court that residents of Wajir South constituency wanted population quota to be seriously considered when coming up with the new boundaries and asked the judges to quash the gazette notice creating the 80 new constituencies and wards.
Another lawyer for the petitioners, Mr Kibe Mungai, submitted that his clients from Mandera East, who were moved to Lafey constituency, had an historical attachment to Mandera and would be adversely affected if the IEBC report was left the way it is.
He said that a ward that is dominated by the Somali community living in Lafey was included in Mandera East, adding that members of that clan would have no chance of one of their own being elected.
The hearings will continue on Wednesday when residents of Nairobi and areas around Nakuru will submit their objections to the creations of the new boundaries.