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IEBC: It’s impossible to have new constituencies before 2022 election

NATIONAL
By Grace Ng'ang'a | June 23rd 2021

IEBC Commissioner Boya Molu, Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Commissioner Abdi Guliye and Acting CEO, Marjan Marjan, during the launch of strategic plan 2020- 2024.[Samson Wire,Standard]

It will be impossible to create new constituencies before next year's elections, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has declared. The IEBC said the earliest the boundary delimitation can be completed is March 2023.

IEBC CEO Hussein Marjan also said financial constraints and legal battles are a major hindrance in discharging their mandate ahead of the 2022 General Election.

He said low budget allocation has affected audit of the ICT system, update of the voter register and review of the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS).

The commission had in the past indicated plans to re-use the 2017 KIEMS kits during next year’s election despite complaints arising from the same citing “lack of funds”

“All programmes are competing for same limited resources that are not even available,” Marjan said.

Appearing before the Senate Committee on Justice, Legal and Human Rights yesterday, the CEO said they electoral agency will kick off mass registration of voters next month targeting 25 million people.

IEBC also plans to increase polling stations to 53,000 up from 40,883 in 2017.

Marjan noted that the commission has registered 145,000 voters since 2017 yet this is a continuous exercise.

The CEO, who represented the IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati before the committee, attributed the poor voter registration to low turnout, lack of budget for the exercise and insufficient civic education.

“Lack of budget is a big problem. Our staff were actually using their own money to go out and register people,” he said.

Marjan noted that in 2017 IEBC, conducted mass voter registration twice bringing the number of registered voters to 19 million, a 36 per cent of what was recorded in 2013.

Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr questioned the huge gap in voter registration.

“That is a serious gap and something is not adding up. Can the CEO explain how many people have they lost and how many have they gained? Are you really prepared for the upcoming elections?” He posed.

Nairobi Senator Johnstone Sakaja asked: “Is the commission developing a wait and see attitude?”

But Marjan said IEBC is prepared for the elections after budgetary allocation by the Treasury.

In the financial year 2021/2022 the commission was allocated Sh14.5 billion which includes Sh2.7 billion for mass voter registration.

“The budget is now available. We are now prepared financially and otherwise for 2022,” he assured the House team.

Marjan regretted that budgetary constraints have prevented the commission from undertaking institutional reforms to ensure smooth elections next year.

“Without resources, we cannot conduct voter registration and sensitise Kenyans to come out to vote in large numbers just as we did in the 2017 elections. Since we don’t have these funds, we can only appeal to politicians to sensitise youth to register as voters at our constituency offices,” he said.

The CEO said they had asked Parliament to allocate IEBC at least Sh40 billion for preparations, but the budget was slashed to Sh33 billion.

Marjan noted that the commission has pending bills amounting to Sh2.7 billion which include Sh1.6 billion owed to legal firms and Sh1.03 billion owed to ICT service providers.

He asked the Senate to intervene in the matter, saying some vendors have threatened to stop supply of services next year. “We are told by the National Treasury to clear pending bills by June 30, but we don’t have the funds. We need these resources to deliver fair, transparent and credible elections,” Marjan said.

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