By Roselyne Obala
Parties that fail to submit their list of nominees for various elective offices on Friday will be locked out of the General Election.
Issuing the warning o Tuesday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said most parties forfeited the seven-day window to resolve nomination disputes by opting to pick candidates on January 17, just 24 hours to the deadline.
Chief Executive Officer James Oswago said IEBC would stick to the law requiring parties to file nominee lists 45 days before elections, and there would be no extension. Aspirants who lose out on nomination will therefore have no time to seek resolution through various mechanisms provided by their parties.
Parties in the CORD, Amani and Jubilee coalitions hold their nominations tomorrow, rendering the exercise a do-or-die affair for aspirants. Many aspirants in the Orange Democratic Movement, Wiper Democratic Movement, TNA, URP and UDF are reportedly secretly holding nomination certificates from smaller parties in case they are edged out.
Indeed, small parties indicated they would be ready with certificates on the deadline date for those wishing to jump ship.
“Once we receive the list, we cannot make changes. Even if some names were erroneously presented, we will not interfere with the list,” said Oswago.
He said the law states that a party list shall be closed and no changes can be made after submission to the custodian of elections. “Political parties had enough time to work on their lists,” he said.
There are 1,882 positions to be contested countrywide for which all parties will be picking candidates on Thursday. “We have 290 for national assembly, 1,450 county assembly, 47 each for governorship and senatorship and one for the presidency,” said Oswago.
The revelation is a big blow to aspirants who will either feel cheated or those who will dispute the results. Political parties had earlier indicated they would deal with disputes within the seven-day window, and then revert to the IEBC.
But Oswago said despite IEBC also having its own dispute resolution mechanism to deal with contentions that might arise after the nominations, parties have to exhaust their own internal mechanisms. This now looks impossible given the Friday deadline.
“Complaints lodged by the aggrieved aspirants must first be heard by the parties internally before they can be referred to the IEBC, but they (parties) may not have time to do so,” he said.
Apart from political parties and the IEBC, the Judiciary has set up a dispute resolution tribunal chaired by Peter Simani, to resolve party disputes.
On the same note, the Police Inspector General, Mr David Kimaiyo on Tuesday appealed for peace after the primaries. “In every competition, there must be winners and losers. I urge all aspirants to maintain peace during and after the nominations,” he said.
He warned the police would not spare anyone found inciting people to violence tomorrow. “We have mechanisms to address complaints, and we are not going to tolerate any election malpractice,” he said.
Kimaiyo assured Kenyans of security during tomorrow’s exercise, which resembles a mini-election, and in the March 4 polls. He said over 66,000 police officers would be deployed at the 33,000 IEBC polling stations in addition to officers on regular beats.
And the Government has ordered all public primary schools be closed tomorrow for the parties’ nominations. A circular released by education PS George Godia to County Directors of Education and the District Education Officers says the schools’ closure is to ensure safety of pupils during the exercise.
He said the police have identified the operational needs, problems and possible challenges during and after the exercise and is adequately prepared to provide security in all polling stations and tallying centres countrywide. “We want these elections conducted in a proper and decent manner and we are ready to play our role,” he said.
He continued: “We have a plan for the elections, which is in its final stages and will be unveiled soon. We have inco-operated all stakeholders.”
Kimaiyo announced that in the course of the week, he would make it public and also give President Kibaki a copy. “Citizens must play a role by ensuring they check on their personal security. We must work together,” he said.
The IG who spoke at a Political Parties Liaison Committee meeting in a Nairobi hotel to discuss security preparations, urged party officials to approach the nearest police stations and work together with the officers ahead of their primaries.
Referring to clash torn areas like Tana Delta, Mathare and Baragoi, Kimaiyo said the violence was politically instigated. “We have held meetings with residents in these areas and the problem is within ourselves,” he disclosed.
The police have mapped out violence hotspots and are working with local leaders to prevent any form of electoral violence. Kimaiyo said the officers are being trained on how to identify electoral offences during campaign period and polls. “We are going to work together. There must be a change of mindset, our officers despite being registered voters will not take sides,” he said.
Kimaiyo said he had instructed the officers to read and understand the Election laws and act without fear or favour. “Indeed, this (nominations) is like a special election. We are sensitising our officers to cooperate with IEBC officials,” he said.
He said voters should leave the polling centres immediately after voting.