Sh10m fine for politicians who break election laws - Daily Nation

Sh10m fine for politicians who break election laws

Wednesday July 18 2012

Photo/FILE  Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan.

Photo/FILE Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan. 

By BERNARD NAMUNANE [email protected]

A candidate who uses public wealth in political campaigns will be fined Sh10 million or jailed for six years.

If Mr Miguna Miguna were to repeat his feat of wrestling Chepalungu MP Isaac Rutto to the ground at the main tallying centre, he would be liable to a Sh1 million fine or a jail term of five years.

Even a thirsty voter who accepts a bottle of water or soda from a political party representative could find himself or herself on the wrong side of the law.

These are among a wide range of offences contained in the Elections Act to curb vote rigging, hooliganism and bribery as Kenyans head to the polls scheduled for March 4, 2013.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) bosses have promised to enforce the law to the letter and appealed to all politicians and voters to follow it.

“We have to learn from the lessons of 2007/08. Let us embrace peaceful voting and campaigning. I want to urge Kenyans to have full confidence in the IEBC. They should also keep law and order,” said commission chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan.

Investigate offences

Commission chief executive James Oswago said the laws would be enforced following the creation of the departments of prosecution and investigations at the IEBC.

“We are in a position to investigate offences and prosecute cases without referring to any other authority,” he said.

Offences range from falsifying and buying voters cards, double registration, conduct at polling stations, secrecy of commission staff, undue influence, bribery, use of violence, use of public resources and use of national security organs to gain advantage.

The law bans politicians, especially those holding Cabinet positions, from using public resources during campaigns. Defying this will attract a fine of Sh10 million or a jail term of six years.

It also bans printing, publishing and distribution of posters, placards and adverts about the election of a candidate which do not carry the names and addresses of the printers and publishers. Flouting this requirement will invite a Sh500,000 fine or a five-year jail stint or both.

Similarly it prohibits agents and party supporters from forging nominations papers. One should also not destroy an opponent’s nomination papers.

The law also wades into hooliganism during campaigns by criminalising foul language, hate speech, incitement to violence, and discrimination on ethnic, religious and gender grounds.

Disrupting an opponent’s rally is also an offence under the law.

This is to ensure that all candidates are free to campaign in any part of the country while Kenyans can, without fear, express their support for their preferred candidates.

Party agents who bribe voters at or on their way to polling stations will face tough consequences.

In fact, any form of bribery is an offence and those found guilty will be fined Sh1 million or go to jail for six years.

A voter who accepts food, drink or money at a polling station will be in serious trouble.

The law declares it an elections offence which comes with a fine of Sh1 million or a six-year jail term.