IEBC to publish names of aspirants for party primaries

IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba

The electoral agency will from Thursday publish names of candidates who will participate in party nominations, signalling the start of fierce contests.

According to the timelines, IEBC is to gazette candidates and dates of primaries between March 30 and April 12.

The timelines indicate an overlap with the submission of names of candidates for party primaries to the commission whose countdown began on Sunday.

Parties have seven more days to file names of aspirants they have cleared to contest in primaries.

Uhuru cancels visit

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday cancelled his scheduled tour of western Kenya, a day after cancellation of visits to Tharaka Nithi and Meru counties planned this week, citing the critical electoral events.

“This is the last week provided by the IEBC for political parties to submit their nomination lists. President Kenyatta wants nominees to focus on this important democratic process. The President is keen to ensure that all the processes are fulfilled as required by guidelines provided for by the institutions mandated to ensure a credible nominations process,” read a statement released by his spokesman Manoah Esipisu yesterday.

The developments come 131 days to the General Election.

Just like in 2013, stakes are high and political players are leaving nothing to chance as the day approaches but this year’s polls will likely be fought on a different pedestal.

It is a contest where the incumbent is seeking re-election for a final term but is facing a rejuvenated Opposition out to prematurely end his reign.

President Kenyatta will be fighting to avoid the ignominy of being a one-term president, which would be a first in independent Kenya, while the Opposition is keen to make this a reality. If what has been witnessed in the past year is anything to go by, the election is likely to be a hotly contested affair with either party fighting tooth and nail to prevail during the August 8 polls.

Although the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has not beckoned for the official start of the campaigns, the frenzy associated with elections has already hit the country.

If all goes according to the planned script, President Kenyatta will be up against the National Super Alliance (NASA), which has, however, not picked its sole candidate.

Having faced Uhuru and his Deputy William Ruto in 2013 in a fragmented fashion, the Opposition feels it is now the time to approach the election on a united front to stand a chance of beating the incumbent.

From what they have said in their countrywide rallies, the Opposition leaders are hoping to create euphoria akin to the 2002 Narc wave that sent home the Kanu regime.

However, Opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula have kept their supporters guessing on their game plan, with some anxious followers saying time is running out for them.

Apart from the presidency, IEBC will be conducting other elections at both the national and the county level.

Observers say that this being a high-stakes election, IEBC must endeavour to conduct credible elections.

Stiff competition is already being witnessed in gubernatorial and county assembly seats, which have attracted immeasurable interests at the county level while the National Assembly seats have also attracted attention.

But much focus will be on the recently unveiled IEBC, which will be literally racing against time to conduct a credible election, having been in place for just two months.

The electoral agency has been forced, on several occasions, to review its timelines to reflect the reality of limited time, having itself been appointed in January.

The real preparations for the election have now started in earnest with timelines set out by IBEC requiring all political parties to furnish the commission with names of candidates for party primaries between now and April 5.

Once the exercise closes, IEBC will have seven days to gazette the names of candidates in all party primaries beginning from presidential, parliamentary, gubernatorial and civic seats. The gazettement will be done by April 12.

Unlike in the past, if a name is submitted and eventually gazetted, the candidate cannot switch parties in order to enhance chances of being nominated.

In past elections, aspirants were free to change parties after losing in primaries. However, this was changed when Parliament amended election laws.

The official campaign period kicks off on May 28 and ends on August 5, two days before the election.

According to revised election timelines unveiled by IEBC, those locked out of the nominations must fall off the race, or opt to go as independent candidates.

Ten days

“Political parties have 10 days from March 26 to submit names of candidates for party primaries to the commission for publication in the Kenya Gazette as per the law,” stated IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati.

Going by the new timelines released by the IEBC, political parties will also be required to hold their party primaries between April 13 and 26. This means that April will be a crucial month in the preparation of the August election.

The timetable further indicates nominations for the presidential and senatorial elections will be conducted between May 28 and 29.

The commission has also directed that nominations for gubernatorial and National Assembly elections should take place between June 1 and 2.

In a statement released by Chebukati, the commission says it will publish names of all nominated candidates between June 10 and 17 as required by electoral laws.