The fate of 27 constituencies that did not meet the population criteria in the 2012 boundary review now hangs in the balance after the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said it will be open to change in the upcoming evaluation.
While the number of constituencies will still remain 290 — as stipulated in the Constitution — any alteration to constitutional boundaries will greatly change the political matrix ahead of the 2022 elections.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday said the boundaries will be reviewed after the March 24-25, 2019 census, which will determine the population required for a constituency to maintain its status.
The population of a constituency must be higher or lower than its quota by 40 per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas, and 30 per cent for other areas. The quota is arrived at by dividing the total population by the 290 constituencies.
During the last review, the population threshold was set at 133,000 people.
The review must be done at intervals of not less than eight years and not more than 12 years, but should be completed at least 12 months before members of Parliament are elected.
The 27 constituencies that were saved in 2012, but which face alterations in the next review are Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura, Galole, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya, Kangema, and Mathioya.
Others are Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga, Budalang’i, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku, and Mbeere North.
Meanwhile, Mr Chebukati has linked the attempt by two former IEBC commissioners to return to office to an audit of the 2017 election that came out last week.
“There are a lot of vested interests when it comes to the work of the commission. When they left, we came up with an audit of the 2017 election, and if you look at the time of their attempted return, just after we have finished the audit, you can draw some parallels there,” Mr Chebukati told NTV on Wednesday.
He said the audit had implicated some commissioners, whom he refused to name, in overpricing election materials.
He laughed off the attempts by former Vice-Chairperson Consolata Maina and commissioner Margaret Mwachanya to return to work as insincere. They both resigned in April alongside commissioner Paul Kurgat.
Ms Maina and Ms Mwachanya had on Friday last week and on Monday demanded to be allowed back to their offices, saying a High Court finding that their resignation was unprocedural allowed them back to work, a position Mr Chebukati completely rejects.
“We need to have men and women of honour in Kenya who, when they say something, they stick to it. You cannot say that since the President has not initiated processes to replace you then you are not out. No!” Mr Chebukati said.
“We are clear that these people are former commissioners. They have cleared with us, and that is it,” he said.
While he said he was not in a position “to know whether the president received the resignation letters”, the three commissioners had sworn in court that they had quit their jobs, and that, in itself, should suffice.