Reprieve for IEBC as judges rule on poll zones disputes
Posted Monday, July 9 2012 at 21:39
The electoral commission scored a milestone in its delimitation of 80 new constituencies after the High Court ruled that the zones were distributed fairly.
Judges also saved the commission millions of shillings that would have gone into settling the costs of litigation when it ruled that each party pays its own costs.
However, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will have to make major amendments to its boundaries and maps with regards to the delimitation of wards after a five- judge Bench effected changes to various ward boundaries.
This will involve further budgetary allocations.
There were 137 cases on boundaries that must be in place ahead of the General Election due on March 4, 2013. The cases had threatened the preparations for the elections.
Law professor Kithure Kindiki said the court only ruled on the changes of ward names and shifted some constituencies, leaving out substantive matters such as administrative boundaries for county, ward and constituencies.
“It is a mixed grill. The court did not arrive at definite decisions on whether public participation was sufficient, there was no ruling on the absence of maps that should have accompanied the final report, the issue between Tharaka and Meru counties on where Meru National Park belongs was not resolved but advised that other avenues be pursued for resolution,” he said.
The Bench found that IEBC had in some instances failed to take into account the community of interests, geographical features, means of communications and minority groups in delimiting wards.
A number of constituencies in Coast and North Eastern Provinces were affected in the new reallocation of wards made by the court. “Although the commissions are independent, IEBC has to promote dignity of individuals and communities, observe, respect and fulfil the provisions of the Bill of Rights,” said Justices Mohammed Warsame, Pauline Nyamweya, Ruth Sitati, Helen Omondi and David Majanja.
Article 89 of the Constitution requires fair consideration of population size, geographical features, community of interest, means of communication and land size when apportioning electoral zones.
IEBC, used the Andrew Ligale led Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC) report as its primary data and the report of the Justice and legal Affairs Committee then chaired by Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba as its secondary data.
The House adopted the report by the committee to break a deadlock that erupted after the IEBRC mandate expired before it could gazette its final report as required by the law.
After the delimitation, Rift Valley Province got 26 additional constituencies, Coast and Central got four, North Eastern six, and Nyanza, Nairobi and Western were allocated nine each.