Politics and policy

MPs raise alarm over late submission of poll rules

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A man votes at Ongata Rongai open air polling station during a mock election by the Interim Electoral and Boundaries Commission on  March 24, 2012. Parliament has raised the red flag over IEBC’s delay in submitting poll regulations. Photo/FILE

A man votes at Ongata Rongai open air polling station during a mock election by the Interim Electoral and Boundaries Commission on March 24, 2012. Parliament has raised the red flag over IEBC’s delay in submitting poll regulations. Photo/FILE  Nation Media Group

By EDWIN MUTAI

Posted  Thursday, August 30   2012 at  20:36

In Summary

  • The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was expected to forward the rules to Parliament for approval and gazettement at least six months before the General Election. The deadline is Tuesday of next week.
  • Parliament might have to withdraw all other business on Tuesday to debate and pass the regulations and have them gazetted through a Special Gazette Notice the same day.
  • There is also uncertainty over the date of the General Election arising from delay in securing 16,000 biometric voter kits for which the Canadian government is lending Kenya Sh4.6 billion.
  • At a joint meeting between the Committee on Delegated Legislation, and the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC), MPs said the draft regulations would issue guidelines on resolving disputes arising from the presidential run-off, how Kenyans in the diaspora will vote, and nomination fees charged by IEBC.

Parliament has raised the red flag over IEBC’s delay in submitting poll regulations, which could force the March 4 General Election to be postponed.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was expected to forward the rules to Parliament for approval and gazettement at least six months before the General Election. The deadline is Tuesday of next week.

“We are in a crisis to rush against the deadline prescribed in the Elections Act 2012. Today (Thursday) is the last day that the House sits before the expiry of the six months window to approve the regulations for gazettement on September 4,” Ms Amina Abdala, the chair of the Committee on Delegated Legislation, said Thursday.

Parliament might have to withdraw all other business on Tuesday to debate and pass the regulations and have them gazetted through a Special Gazette Notice the same day.

There is also uncertainty over the date of the General Election arising from delay in securing 16,000 biometric voter kits for which the Canadian government is lending Kenya Sh4.6 billion.

At a joint meeting between the Committee on Delegated Legislation, and the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee (CIOC), MPs said the draft regulations would issue guidelines on resolving disputes arising from the presidential run-off, how Kenyans in the diaspora will vote, and nomination fees charged by IEBC.

Two weeks ago, IEBC increased nomination fees fivefold. Candidates for parliamentary and senate seats will pay Sh250,000, up from Sh50,000.

IEBC chief executive officer James Oswago had sought guidance from the chair on what he termed “procedural issues and communication breakdown between the commission and Parliament.”

After this point, the joint meeting was held in camera with journalists asked to leave. Mr Oswago was understood to have told the committee that IEBC had submitted the election regulations rules to the Attorney General to be gazetted.

This would, however, be contrary to Article 109 (3) of the Elections Act which requires the regulations to be approved by Parliament.

Ms Amina said that the committee had not received feedback on three letters written on May 14, August 8, and August 23, reminding the commission of the obligation. Mr Oswago denied the accusation, saying IEBC had promptly responded to the letters.

Nomination disputes

Ms Amina said coalition party symbols, where two or three parties enter into a pre-election pact, had not been provided for under the draft regulations.

She also raised concern over the exemption to those eyeing the governor’s seat from presenting their list of supporters in order to be nominated to run.

She said that the draft rules had been informally brought to the committee and that they did not take into account party nomination disputes.

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