It will not be necessary to extend the term of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), commission chairman Mr Ahmed Issack Hassan has said.
He said earlier on Tuesday that the commission would be able to conduct the 2017 General Election and deliver results and even manage a run-off within the time provided.
Mr Hassan, however, said that if replacing any of the commissioners must be done, it should happen early enough to ensure a smooth handover and transition.
The IEBC chairman spoke at the Great Rift Valley Lodge and Golf Resort in Naivasha after the conclusion of a meeting between the commission and political parties to discuss the planned mass voter registration, scheduled to take place from February 15 to March 15.
Last week, the Commission on Administration of Justice (Ombudsman) advised that commissioners whose terms end in November should retire early to avert a constitutional crisis should there be a need for a presidential run-off after the General Election scheduled to take place on August 8.
Among those who would be affected are the IEBC chairman, whose term ends on November 9, 2017, just three months after the General Election.
The Ombudsman argued that there is every possibility the exercise would go beyond the term of some of the IEBC commissioners and urged them to "voluntarily and honourably" resign.
Commission chairman Otiende Amollo based his arguments on timelines within the electoral process with regard to the announcement of results and a rerun if the presidential results are contested.
According to the law, the commission must declare the election results within seven days after the election, which would be August 15.
A petition contesting the results would be filed within seven days, after which the Supreme Court would have 14 days to determine the petition.
Where the election is declared null and void by the court, a fresh election would be required in 60 days, after which the IEBC would have seven days to declare the results.
But, in response, Mr Hassan said the Ombudsman had exaggerated the possibilities. “In my view that was misinformation and he was stretching the limits of the law to the extreme end,” he said.
“I don’t think it’s necessary to extend the term of the commission, I think the commission can do the election, a runoff, a fresh election and still deliver the results. If the commission has to be replaced, then we have to do it early enough so that there is a very smooth transition and handing over,” he stated.
The IEBC chairman said the commission is now well prepared to handle the next election, having learnt from the experiences of the 2013 election.
“We are now most experienced and better prepared to do a better job,” he stated.
However, the commission insists that it is financially constrained and has been forced to operate within the budgetary allocation.
The commission had requested for Sh2 billion from the National Treasury for the voter registration but was allocated only Sh 500 million, leaving it with a deficit of Sh 1.5 billion.
Commission Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba called on MPs to look at the issue of the election as a priority and invest in it.
"In the circumstances, we are doing what we can … with the limited resources that we have," Dr Chiloba said.
The commission CEO said it will still use 15,000 biometric voter registration kits that were used in the last general election in the registration exercise. He said the kits are enough and will be allocated to the 3,000 registration clerks.
He said compared with other countries in the region, Kenya has the highest number of electronic voter registration kits. He cited Tanzania, which had 8,000 and was able to register over 22 million voters in a period of six months. Ghana, with 7,000 kits, was able to register 20 million voters over the same period, he said.
"[In] Kenya, we already have enough kits. The problem is other aspects of registration, so there is no cause for alarm … and we are doing this in the first phase, we are going to have another phase," he said.
He explained that there shall be a minimum of two registration clerks per ward and that the registration kit will be moving from one registration centre to another.