Polls agency shelves plan for 47 offices
Posted Monday, July 2 2012 at 23:30
The electoral commission has shelved plans to build offices in all the 47 counties due to financial constraints.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission says this was one of the measures it had taken to live within the money allocated to it by the Treasury.
The commission had asked for Sh36 billion but was only allocated Sh17.5 billion in the Budget. However, chairman Issack Hassan told the Nation that this would not affect the credibility of the election planned for March 4, 2013.
‘’In spite of our budget expectations not being met, everything is not lost. The commission can still conduct free and fair elections within the budget we have. There can be no doubt about it.’’
Other areas the commission will cut back are voter education, especially the money which will be spent on media campaigns. The commission will also hire instead of buying vehicles.
In addition, the number of polling stations will be scaled down from the 45,000 initially envisioned to 40,000.
The commission is also grappling with the delayed delimitation of constituency boundaries without which registration of voters cannot start.
The cases challenging IEBC’s proposed boundaries are in the High Court which is set to rule on them by the end of this week. However, there are fears within the commission that the High Court judgment may be appealed, delaying the process farther.
The team has, meanwhile, moved to counter efforts by the Mombasa Republican Council to force voters at the Coast to boycott elections. IEBC says it is worried that MRC threats could lead to a poor voter turnout in the region.
Consequently, the commission has launched early voter education programmes in the region using local FM stations, community and religious leaders. Senior commission officials have been at the Coast to coordinate the engagement with voters and leaders.
But Mr Hassan told the Nation in an interview that other State agencies must move fast to address the MRC issue.
‘’The Mombasa Republican Council is not just an IEBC issue. It is a national security issue which has to be tackled by government institutions mandated to give Kenyans security,’’ Mr Hassan told the Nation in an interview.
He said IEBC would carry out elections in Mombasa and surrounding areas just like it will across the rest of the country.
He warned Coastal voters that if they do not turn out and vote, other communities residing in the region will, and give them leaders they don’t like. MRC, which is campaigning for secession of the region, has warned that there will be no elections at the Coast.
The group accuses successive governments of marginalising the region in the allocation of land, jobs and other resources since independence.
It was blamed for temporarily disrupting an IEBC mock election at one polling station in Kilifi recently. There have also been reports that the group is confiscating identity cards belonging to residents to prevent them from voting.
Mr Hassan said the attack on the polling station provided an important lesson for the commission ahead of the General Election.