How new voter zones would be shared out

Suna East MP Junet Mohamed makes his speech during the launch of the collection of signatures for the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) at KICC in Nairobi on November 25, 2020. [Stafford Ondego, Standard]

Rift Valley, Nairobi, Central and Coast are the biggest beneficiaries of the new 70 constituencies in constitutional changes proposed by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).

The Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, proposes to increase the number of constituencies from 290 to 360.

The Bill indicates that the larger Rift Valley will get 23 new constituencies, Nairobi 12, Central Kenya 11 and Coast 10.

Kiambu County will get six new constituencies, Nakuru 5, Kilifi 4 while Uasin Gishu, Narok, Kajiado, Mombasa, Kwale and Bungoma counties will get three each.

Meru, Bomet, Kakamega, Kisumu counties are slated to get two new electoral areas while Mandera, Embu, Makueni, Kirinyaga, Murang'a, Turkana, West Pokot, Nandi, Laikipia, Siaya and Nyamira have been allocated one each.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is required to determine the new constituencies within six months after the commencement of the Act.

The promoters of the BBI said they used population to decide the counties to get the additional constituencies, with priority given to those underrepresented in the National Assembly.

However, protected constituencies with little population in Tana River, Lamu, Taita Taveta, Marsabit, Isiolo, Nyandarua, Nyeri, Samburu, Elgeyo-Marakwet, Baringo, Vihiga and Busia will not be affected by the delimitation.

No existing constituency will be lost following the proposed changes.

IEBC is mandated to review electoral areas after between eight and 12 years but any review must be completed at least 12 months before General Election of MPs.

If the changes are held within 12 months of General Election, the new boundaries do not take effect in the polls but the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020, exempts the additional constituencies from the requirement.

Rift Valley, Eastern and Central Kenya lead in the number of registered voters, with more than 10 million out of 19 million that were listed in the last polls.

The Rift Valley has more than 4,644,812 registered voters, followed by Eastern (2,986,670), Central (2,912,659), Nyanza (2,686,198), Nairobi (2,304,571) and Coast (1,733,722).

The new constituencies are likely to be a key factor in the BBI referendum and the 2022 election campaigns as political bigwigs battle for the control of the regions.

The number of elected MPs in the National Assembly further determines political parties’ strength and would be key in determining the prime minister and holders of other key House posts.