Written by West Fm
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Parliament through Joshua Kutuny, the mp for Cherangani called on the government to roll out a clear roadmap for the country as it heads for the forth coming general elections, to avert what was witnessed during the previous election.
Kutuny, disclosed that “the next general election will be the most complex one under the new Constitution” thus, he required to know how the government was prepared to put in place all the necessary logistics and modalities to ensure a free, fair and transparent election.
In response, the Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Thursday, he issued a statement in Parliament outlining measures the Government has put in place to prepare for the coming elections.
Among them, he called on the politicians to desist from tribal groupings saying that the National Security and Intelligence Service (NSIS) had informed the government that there are strong indicators of violence due to an increase in tribal politics. This he said, “Our political environment requires urgent ‘cooling’ to stop it from ‘overheating’ along ethnic lines."
This is the responsibility of all leaders within and outside this august House. The National Security Intelligence Service has informed the Government that there are indicators of possible political violence ahead of the next General Elections.
The Service has warned and I quote, “The recent trend where a section of the political elite have resorted to using ethnic groups for political mobilization in order to advance personal and community interests to the exclusion of other sections of the Kenyan community is posing a threat to national cohesion and security. The use of tribal groupings to rally ethnic communities to denounce the ICC process may lead to deterioration of inter-ethnic tensions pitting those perceived to be for and against the process. The trend where most of the political parties attract bedrock support from specific ethnic groups is fuelling ethnic hostilities”.
Below are some of the excerpts from his statement on how the government was prepared:
Article 4 of our Constitution declares the Republic of Kenya to be a multi-party democratic State founded on the values and principles of democracy, participation of the people, good governance, integrity, transparency and accountability, amongst others.
Our Constitution outlines in Article 81 the principles of our electoral system which include free and fair periodic elections by secret ballot, free from violence, intimidation, improper influence or corruption, conducted by an independent body and administered in a transparent, impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable manner.
The number of elective political positions open to competition in the next General Elections will be one (1) President, 47 Governors, 47 Senators, 47 Women Representatives, 290 Members of Parliament and 1450 County Assemblers. There will be 18 million voters, 45,000 polling stations, 350,000 election officials, 100,000 security officers, 338 tallying centres at Constituency, County and National levels and 47 voting points for diaspora.
In assessing the state of our national electoral preparedness, we must examine the prevailing political environment and review the state of the laws that regulate elections including judicial mechanisms for prompt and impartial adjudication of electoral disputes. Equally important is to consider the level of preparedness of both the institutions that manage elections and political parties. The extent of enfranchisement must also be assessed. The ability of the national security organs to guarantee peaceful and orderly elections and the degree of involvement of civil society and international community in observing and monitoring the elections must also be assessed.
Let me acknowledge from the outset that certain uncertainties remain with respect to the state of national electoral preparedness. The date of the next general elections, delimitation of new electoral units, issuance of identity cards to all eligible voters, establishment of clear judicial procedures for dealing with electoral disputes, operationalization of gender balance requirements in elective offices, entrenchment of vetting process for aspirants of political office, compilation of the final voter register, enactment of the rules and regulations on independent candidates and reform of the Kenya Police Services, all remain pending.
Several laws relevant to elections have not been enacted. These include the Campaign Financing Bill currently undergoing stakeholder consultations, County Governments Bill which has been referred back to Parliament by the President, Leadership and Integrity Bill currently being finalized, the Assumption of Office of the President Bill pending publication and the National Security Council Bill and the National Intelligence Service Bill currently being drafted. (I table a matrix on the enactment of laws to implement the new Constitution).
A functioning multi-party democracy requires functioning political parties as the established vehicles for political organization and competition. Dysfunctional political parties lead to a dysfunctional multi-party democratic system. To borrow from one of Kenya’s foremost legal scholars, the Late Professor Okoth Ogendo’s dictum on the charade of writing good constitutions and not respecting them, ‘Constitutions without Constitutionalism’, may I say that we should avoid ‘Multi-partism without Political Parties’. Political parties form the foundation of our multi-party democratic system. Our democracy will only be as strong as our political parties. Political parties give life to our democracy. Political parties and leadership thereof that does not respect constitutionalism undermines as opposed to promoting democracy. The ethnicization of our political parties is a cause of great concern. Equally worrying is the pattern of behaviour by political leaders to exhibit open disrespect of the laws that regulate membership and activities of political parties. The enforcement of the laws on political parties needs to be strengthened to safeguard our democracy against opportunistic politics and instill the necessary level of democratic discipline amongst the political class.
The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties established April 30, 2012 as the deadline for political parties to comply with the Political Parties Act. At the expiry of the deadline, 24 political parties had been registered while 25 applications are undergoing verification. Throughout the month of April 2012, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties carried out nationwide public sensitization through the popular media and forums in each of the 47 Counties on operations of political parties as vehicles for promoting democracy.
The Office of the Registrar of Political Parties has established Political Parties Liaison Committees both at the national and county levels as forums for fostering inter-party relations and platforms for dialogue between the Registrar, IEBC and political parties. The Registrar plans to conduct training programmes for members of the Political Parties Liaison Committees on the values and principles of our electoral system, election related laws and Electoral Code of Conduct. In addition, the Registrar will train duly nominated candidates and their polling agents in all Counties on their roles before, during and after the elections. (I table a matrix on the preparations by the Registrar of Political Parties for the General Elections).
Enfranchisement of the youth, the diaspora, internally displaced persons, women and marginalized populations remains a priority for the Government. The Government has procured and installed production equipment with the capacity to produce 60,000 identity cards per day. In the past six (6) months a total of 1.6 million identity cards have been produced and despatched to the Districts. The Government plans to issue 3.5 million new identity cards by the end of 2012. Field Registration Centres have been directed to intensify mobile registration. The Government has waived fees for replacement of First Generation Identity Cards with Second Generation Identity Cards. First time identity cards are issued free of charge. The requirement that married women produce affidavits before being issued with identity cards has been removed. The Government is investigating the option of combining the issuance of national identity cards with voter registration. There is also a proposal to distribute national identity cards through new channels such as learning and religious institutions in addition to the system of Provincial Administration. (I table a record of identity cards issued to the Districts between September 2011 and March 2012).
The IEBC is undertaking various activities in preparation for the next General Elections. The Commission is finalizing regulations under the Political Parties Act and the Elections Act before presenting the same to stakeholders for consultations and further action by the Executive. The regulations will require to be tabled and approved by Parliament at least six (6) months before the elections. In addition, the Commission has identified several shortcomings in the Elections Act and in the Political Parties Act and has proposed that the amendments be effected vied Statute Miscellaneous Amendment Act.
With regard to delimitation of boundaries for Constituencies and Wards, the Commission gazetted its final Report on March 7, 2012. In excess of 120 court applications are pending in the High Court for determination with respect to the proposed boundaries. The applications must be heard and determined by June 6, 2012.
The Commission is in the process of procuring 9,750 Biometric Voter Registration Kits that would allow the Commission to reach the targeted 18 million voters from the current 12.4 million. A new round of voter registration both within and outside Kenya is planned to commence immediately after the determination of the pending court cases on boundaries. The exercise will take 30 days and is planned for August 2012.
The Commission has, in consultation with the Kenya Institute of Education, the Civil Society, Media, Political Parties and other stakeholders, developed Voter Education Curriculum, Voter Education Manuals and Voter Education Handbook to promote continuous voter education at various stages in the electoral cycle. The Commission has also initiated the process of recruiting Voter Education Providers to compliment the work of the Commission in offering effective grass rootvoter education.
The Commission has successfully piloted the electronic transmission of election results in twelve (12) by-elections and during the National Referendum on the new Constitution. The Commission is currently looking into ways of simultaneously transmitting election results as voting takes place.
The law requires all registered political parties to submit their nomination rules to the Registrar of Political Parties at least seven and a half months before the General Elections. The parties must also submit their party membership list to the Registrar at least twenty-one (21) days before the General Elections. Political parties must complete their party nominations at least forty-five (45) days before the General Elections. (I table an Activity Plan by the IEBC for the next General Elections).
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