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Electoral body sets poll date for March 4, 2013

BUSINESS
By | March 17th 2012
By | March 17th 2012
BUSINESS

By Joylene Sing'oei

Kenya's next general election will be held on Monday March, 4 2013. This will be the first poll since the adoption of the new constitution. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) announced the date on Saturday at a  press conference held in Laico Regency.

IEBC Chairman Isaack Hassan said his commission had been forced to set the date for the election after the two principals President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga failed to agree on an appropriate date.

The announcement by IEBC boss will end mounting anxiety that had rocked the country over the date of polls after failure by the President and the Prime Minister to give guidance on the matter.

The two principlas had failed to decide on an election date following a court ruling in January that had given them two options.

A three-judge bench had ruled that an election date would be determined if the two principals decided to dissolve the coalition government which was formed after the disputed presidential results in 2007, or at the end of the term of 10th Parliament.

The term of the current Parliament expires in January 14, 2013 since MPs in the 10th Parliament were sworn in on January 14, 2008.

Last week, President Kibaki hinted at a 2013 election date ending speculation of any possibility of him arriving at a decision of dissolving the coalition government any time soon to pave way for an early poll. He was speaking at a forum in Sagana.

Raila had backed december date terming it more convenient.

The IEBC chairman on Thursday said they wrote to President Mwai Kibaki and PM Raila Odinga asking if they intended to dissolve the coalition government for elections to be held this year, but no reply was forthcoming.

"In the absence of the reply from the two coalition principals, it leaves us with no choice but to come up with an election date," Hassan told a forum of the civil society and the media on Thursday.

He added: "We have seen the coalition partners speaking at various forums but this cannot be taken to be a reply to our letter to them," Hassan said. "We are going with the assumption that they have no reply. We are therefore going with the assumption that it is Parliament to finish its term… so we will base our date on that."

Hassan also added that his commission would be strict on all the election regulations, including putting up a department to investigate and prosecute electoral offences.

"We have the powers to impound public resources used in campaigns, including minister’s official vehicles," he said.

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