IEBC to create 70 new const*tuencies

Wednesday, November 25th, 2020 00:00 | By
Guests during the launch of the collection BBI signatures collection at KICC yesterday. Photo/PSCU

It’s now official; instead of the 70 special seats proposed earlier in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) document, the country will get the same number of additional constituencies, which will be created by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Nairobi will get the lion’s share of 12 constituencies, should the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill 2020 sail through the proposed national referendum.

The IEBC will be required to draw up boundaries of the new constituencies, within six months after the referendum.

According to the Bill which was unveiled yesterday by President Uhuru Kenyatta and ODM leader Raila Odinga at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC), creation of the new constituencies would be pegged on under-representation in the National Assembly on the basis of population quota.

“The allocations of the additional seats shall also be made in a manner that ensures the number of inhabitants in a constituency is as nearly as possible to the population quota,” the new bill states.

The proposal is a deviation from the earlier one that had recommended that the 70 seats be reserved for nominations of persons identified by political parties and their names forwarded to IEBC before a General Election.

Yesterday, the People Daily reported that the technical committee had dropped the proposal to create 70 extra seats, that would have been up for grabs through nominations, after a General Election in order to cure the two-thirds gender rule impasse.

Constituencies that are currently deemed to be under-represented because of their huge populations, would have received additional MPs through nominations on the basis of a population quota of 132,138 people per legislator.

The story indicated that the changes were made following heated arguments within the technical committee over the criteria to be used in allocating the new seats.

In the new arrangement, IEBC will have to delimit new constituency boundaries once the BBI proposals are enacted into law.

And the creation of the new 70 constituencies shall not in any way lead to the loss of the existing ones from which they would have been hived off, the Bill states.

Besides, the bill seeks to offer a lifeline to protected constituencies in Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Isiolo, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Samburu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Vihiga and Busia counties.

Under the 2009 boundaries review, 27 constituencies in these counties were declared protected and were bound to be scrapped in the next boundaries review should they fail to meet the population threshold set by the Constitution.

The affected constituencies included Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi,Voi, Bura, Galole, Isiolo South, Kilome, Laisamis, North Horr, Saku, Siakago(now Mbeere North), Ndaragwa, Tetu, Murkurweini, Othaya and Kangema.

Others are Mathioya, Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio, Vihiga and Budalang’i.

During the last boundaries review, the population threshold was set at 133,000 people, a figure that has been retained by the BBI technical team for use in the creation of the 70 additional constituencies.

A meeting of MPs in Naivasha last month had proposed population quota to be 132,138 people per MP that should have been used as the basis of additional 70 seats.

Should the BBI proposals sail through the referendum, the counties of Kiambu, Nakuru and Kilifi will be some of the biggest beneficiaries of new constituencies after Nairobi, with a proposal to allocate them six, five and four electoral areas, respectively.

Mombasa, Kwale, Machakos, Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kajiado and Bungoma are set to get three additional constituencies each.

Meru, Trans Nzoia, Bomet, Kakamega and Kisumu will get two additional constituencies each as Mandera, Embu, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Murang’a, Turkana, West Pokot, Nandi,Laikipia, Kericho Siaya and Nyamira get one each.

“The requirement in Article 89 (4) does not apply to the review of boundaries for the additional constituencies preceding the first general election from the commencement of the date of this Act,” the gazetted BBI states.

Kenyans across the country are now required to append their signatures to a form formulated by the BBI team in consultation with the IEBC to enable it to go through the first stage.

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