"We are seeing a situation where some people want to precipitate a technical and legal crisis and create a situation where elections are hurried" — Haroun Ndubi
By Lillian Aluanga
With just six months to the elections, there are concerns adequate measures have not been put in place to safeguard the process.
Delays in passing election rules, lack of mechanisms to implement the two-thirds gender rule, weak legislation on ethics and integrity, failure to appoint a registrar of politcal parties, and the slow pace in police reforms are being viewed as indicators that more needs to be done to secure the country’s first election under the new Constitution.
The latest move by Parliament, through the Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee, seeking more time to scrutinise legislation on elections will see the Elections Act amended. Among the changes anticipated is a shortening of timelines previously set for processes like voter registration. This will be reduced from 90 to 60 days.
Other aspects covered by the rules include those on the Diaspora voting, voter education, and General Election rules. Parliament agreed to change the law, allowing for two more months, to agree on regulations that will govern the elections. Previously, the
Act had stipulated that election rules be in place six months prior to the polls. This, however, proved untenable since the rules were tabled last week, at a time when they should already have been approved by Parliament.
“The consequence of delaying passage of regulations intended to operationalise the Elections Act is that it substantially eats into timelines envisaged by the law, thus affecting effective management of the polls,” says Electoral Institute for the Sustainability of Democracy in Africa (EISA) Country director Felix Odhiambo.
To free the IEBC and allow it fully concentrate on the main aspects of the election, Odhiambo proposes that other organs such as the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal and Judiciary Working Committee on Elections Preparation be allowed to handle some processes.
Although the Elections Act gives IEBC powers to determine disputes arising from party nominations, Odhiambo says, limited time and workload on the electoral body may necessitate use of other organs such as the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal.
Differences between the Coalition’s Principals were largely blamed for the delay in setting up the National Police Service Commission (NPSC). The commission is expected to play a role in selecting two deputies to the Inspector General of Police.
Earlier, PM Raila Odinga had disowned a list of persons nominated to the commission saying he was not consulted. Last week, however saw the Principals nominate Johnstone Kavuludi as chair to the commission. Parliament is yet to pass the list of nominees.
The National Police Service Act requires a selection panel, that will handle recruitment of an Inspector General of Police, be set up within 14 days of commencement of the Act. That legislation was assented to in August 2011.