Chebukati vows to deliver mandate
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday expressed confidence it would hold credible elections in August despite a parliamentary committee rejecting a range of regulations proposed by the agency to avert possible nullification of presidential results as happened in 2017.
Chairman Wafula Chebukati said IEBC would still deliver free and fair polls despite the latest setback in Parliament adding the commission’s plans for the coming elections would not be interfered with without the regulations.
The commission prepared the regulations to help seal loopholes that could expose its processes to legal challenges as happened five years ago.
Then, the Supreme Court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s win citing massive electoral irregularities and illegalities overseen by the agency.
The commission forwarded the proposed regulations early this year hoping they would be passed in time before the August 9 elections.
One of the key issues the regulations would have solved was the mode of transmission of results from areas without a 3G network.
The Supreme Court had fingered the body for failing to electronically transmit results from voting stations to the national tallying centre as required by the law. Ahead of this year’s elections, the Commission wanted the law to be changed so that its officials could move to the nearby station with network coverage to transmit results. They also wanted manual transmission of results as an alternative to electronic.
“We worked on the Elections (amendment) Bill which we did with parliamentary committees. The National Assembly passed it and it is now in the Senate. We also prepared regulations, some arising from the proposed amendment. The reason we forwarded the regulations to both Houses is that the law provides that they must be forwarded to Parliament four months to the date of the election,” Chebukati said when he addressed the press on Wednesday evening.
Improve electoral process
He said they were anticipating the passage of the Elections (amendment) Bill 2022 was drafted to improve the electoral processes but this might not happen now as the 12th Parliament ended yesterday.
“We sent the regulations so that in case the Elections (amendment) Bill passes through then it will run with the regulations. So if they have shot them down even before the Bill is passed in the Senate then I don’t understand why,” he added.
With only two months to the polls, the Commission is now under pressure to assure the country of its readiness to conduct foolproof elections.
The National Assembly’s Delegated Legislation Committee chaired by Tiaty MP William Kamket rejected the regulations citing late submission and failure to involve the public in their drafting. Despite this, Chebukati said there was no cause for alarm.
“That notwithstanding the commission is moving on with preparations for the elections, we have our election plans which we have been following. We have our results’ path which we shall demonstrate tomorrow (Thursday) to the stakeholders. Even without those regulations, the Commission will deliver to Kenyans a free, fair and credible election come August 9,” he said.
IEBC chief executive Marjan Marjan said they were aware of the challenges they might face but were developing alternative mechanisms to ensure the country witnessed a credible exercise.
He said the Communications Authority, whose chief executive is Ezra Chiloba, former IEBC CEO who was at the centre of the disputed 2017 polls, had identified polling centres for the coming polls without network coverage. Marjan, however, said they would ensure they transmitted results as required by the existing law.
“We received a report from the CA with the effect that 1011 polling centres are outside the 3G network. The Commission is in the process of finalising the register of voters.
Once we finalise it, we are able to know how many polling stations are affected in those centres but in any case, we have mechanisms to ensure that we have alternative network coverage in those areas including using modems to ensure we have network coverage. We are going to ensure there is network availability for the purpose of this election,” he said.