Sunday, December 13, 2015

Statement By IEBC Chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan

This has been a busy year at the Commission. After the post-election evaluation, the Commission refocused its strategic direction and instituted structural, programmatic and staff changes to enhance its capacity in preparation for 2017 General Election and beyond.
As we come to the end of the year, the Commission would like to announce and update the country on the preparations for the next General Election.
The next General Election will be held on Tuesday, August 8, 2017 as per the Constitution. That is only 19 months away or 607 days to be exact.
The Commission has continued to register voters as mandated by Article 88(4)(a) of the Constitution to conduct Continuous Registration of Citizens as voters. We have set a target of 22.4 million registered voters for the next General Election, which will be 8 million more than the 14,388,781 registered for the 2013 General Election. It is notable, however, that the
post-2013 continuous voter registration has been slow and uninspiring. Only 106,601 new voters have registered as of June 2015 (see attached data breakdown). In order to upscale this exercise, the Commission will conduct a one-month Mass Voter Registration (MVR) exercise from 15th February to 15th March 2016, during which the Commission targets to register a minimum of 4 million new voters.
We want to urge all eligible Kenyans who have not registered to seize this opportunity to exercise their democratic rights. The Commission call on all stakeholders from civil society, political parties and the government to use this holiday period to sensitize and mobilize the citizens to register en masse during the February Mass Voter Registration.
Every Kenyan of 18 years and above with valid documents – either a national ID card or passport - is entitled to register and vote or contest in an election. As of December 2014, the National Registration Bureau (NRB) had issued a total of 23.8 million National ID cards. As of July 2015, 284,450 National IDs remained uncollected. In this regard, the Commission is urging the NRB to expedite the registration and issuance of ID cards. We are also calling upon eligible Kenyans to apply for ID cards and those who have not collected theirs to do so in order to register as voters. We repeat: Only ID cards and valid passports will be used for registration.
In 2014, the Supreme Court made a ruling on the progressive realization of the democratic rights of Kenyan citizens who reside outside the country as stipulated in the 2010 Constitution. The Court directed the IEBC to initiate "progressive voter registration" and put in place "infrastructure for comprehensive registration so that the number participating shall increase progressively over time".
Consequently, the Commission has adopted a Diasproa Policy to guide the registration and voting by Kenyans abroad. It is now in the process of developing accompanying regulations. The Commission recognizes the challenge of establishing the actual number of Kenyans living abroad or their locations because many do not register with the missions. The decision on the number and countries where polling stations will be set up will be based on the number of those who express interest to register as voters. The policy sets a minimum of 3000 registered Kenyan citizens per country and the existence of a Kenyan diplomatic mission or consulate as some of the criteria to be used in determining the provision of electoral services. The Commission is in the process of establishing baseline data for purposes of setting up registration centres for the Kenyan Diaspora.
The Policy is on the IEBC website and Kenyans are welcome to give their feedback.
A month ago on 9th November 2015, the Commission received the Draft Bill for the amendment of the Constitution through the popular initiative,
commonly known as Okoa Kenya Referendum. The Commission has started the process of verifying the signatures, which is a laborious exercise, because the documents were submitted in hard copy. This has slowed down the process but it is ongoing.
While the Commission continues with its preparations for the 2017 General Election, it would be futile if other stakeholders don’t play their role in facilitating, or ensuring a conducive electoral environment. The Commission is particularly concerned with the following:
The Commission presented its budget to the National Treasury for all electoral activities up to 2017. Out of the budget of KSh2billion for the comprehensive Mass Voter Registration, the Commission received only KShs 500 million. The shortfall has serious implications on the registration exercise.
From our evaluation of the last elections, late and inadequate funding remains one of the main challenges to the Commission’s ability to perform its mandate efficiently. We are calling on The National Treasury to provide adequate and timely funding to enable the Commission prepare for the election adequately.
Electoral Reforms:
As you are aware, in September, the Commission submitted the Elections Amendment Bill to Parliament, which among others contains proposed
changes to regulations on voter registration, voter education. The Commission is also working on new regulations on campaign financing and party nominations (pursuant to Article 88 (4)(d) and Article 90 of the Constitution), which will streamline the electoral practice. . We urge Parliament to expedite the passage of these legislation to avoid last minute changes to the election laws that will wrong foot the Commission’s election management plans.
Free and fair elections cannot be held in an insecure environment. The Commission therefore regrets the growing prevalence of hate speech that is polarizing the country. We urge the relevant state agencies to move with speed to arrest this potential threat to the electoral process.
Similarly, there are parts of the country that are experiencing border and inter-communal conflict. This will impede the voter registration unless the situation is urgently controlled.
The Commission wishes to reassure all Kenyans, stakeholders and partners of its commitment to stage an efficient and credible election in 2017. We will keep the country periodically updated on the preparations through regular briefings. On 14th January 2016, the Commission will unveil its roadmap to the next election.
Asanteni Sana.

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