The release of the national census data on Friday now paves the way for the electoral commission to map out constituency boundaries.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says it will start the exercise next month and the move is already causing jitters among politicians who want the process halted to allow for the outcome of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).
During a BBI rally in Narok yesterday, Suba South MP John Mbadi said the IEBC should halt the process until the BBI discourse was concluded.
“Kenyans might decide that they are retaining the constituencies as they are. There is no need to waste that money going around the country to review the boundaries,” Mbadi said.
The exercise could see 27 constituencies with low population merged, while those with high numbers of people could be split.
According to the law, the electoral agency should review the boundaries of the constituencies and wards to ensure the number of people in each of them matches the population quota. The quota is obtained by dividing the country’s population by the number of constituencies or wards.
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The population quota as per the 2019 Kenya Population and Housing Census has risen from 133,000 to 164,000 people.
With the population figures out, the IEBC now gets the green light to rule on the fate of the constituencies that do not meet the population threshold.
They are Othaya, Ndaragwa, Tetu, Mukurweini, Kangema and Mathioya in Mount Kenya region. In the Coast region, those that do not meet the quota are Lamu East, Lamu West, Mvita, Mwatate, Wundanyi, Voi, Bura and Galole.
Others are Samburu East, Marakwet East, Keiyo North, Mogotio in the Rift Valley and Vihiga and Budalang’i in Western as well as Laisamis, Isiolo South, Kilome, North Horr, Saku and Mbeere North.
With the figures, some of these constituencies that also act as sub-counties and which were in the red could still be put under review.
The Constitution grants the IEBC powers to do a review at an 8 to 12-year interval. However, the review should be completed at least 12 months before a general election. It also can change the number of wards from the current 1,450.
The IEBC now has a 17-month window to review the names and boundaries of constituencies as 2022 General Election beckons.
Nonetheless, Treasury and Planning CS Ukur Yatani said the Kenya National Bureau of Statistics (KNBS) had a final report on the population of constituencies and wards that it would provide to the IEBC.
However, depending on the nature of the constituency or ward – whether it is in a dense or sparsely populated area – the population may be greater or less than the population quota.
For cities and sparsely populated areas, the margin should not be more than 40 per cent and 30 per cent for the other areas.