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Consider military barracks as polling stations, IEBC panel told

By Grace Ng'ang'a | July 22nd 2021

Col Saeed Khames Saeed. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Kenya should consider making military barracks polling stations during the General Election, an interviewee for commissioner of the electoral agency has proposed.

Retired military Col Saeed Khames Saeed appeared before the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) selection panel yesterday, and said it was time to consider such a move. This, he said, would allow military officers to exercise their right to vote.

Mr Saeed is the 28th candidate to face the panel recruiting commissioners for four vacant slots. He said it has never been possible for all officers to exercise their voting rights due to the workload during the said period.

The candidate told the Dr Elizabeth Muli’s panel that another challenge is being deployed to a region where one is not a registered voter.

“During elections, the military is expected to register at the area they are stationed not in the rural or desired place like is the norm for most people. So depending on the load of the day you may be registered in point A but deployed to point B where you cannot vote,” he said.

Col Saeed Khames Saeed. [David Njaaga, Standard]

He said having military barracks as polling stations would also ensure more people vote. “You are only allowed to go and vote in batches, not all of you will get that chance,” he said.

He said most people who vote are usually off duty and only the lucky few that request for passes earlier than the voting day, have an opportunity.

Panelist Morris Kimuli failed to understand how they only vote depending on circumstances arguing that that right is contingent.

“So do you think that in the policy level something needs to be done to ensure all people working in our security forces exercise their right to vote?” he posed.

Kimuli was however concerned by the idea, arguing that the move might compromise some barracks that may render results not in favour of their commander-in-chief.

Col Saeed Khames Saeed. [David Njaaga, Standard]

“But since barracks report to the President who is their commander-in-chief what do you think would happen should a particular barrack transmit negative results?” Kimuli posed.

But Saeed said there is power in the secret ballot and no one should be crucified for exercising their right. He said should he be appointed to the commission, he may look at things from a military point of view just to ensure things go systematically.

Panelist Farudin Abdalla wanted to know whether he will carry along the strict side of a military officer. “The notion out here is that military guys are hard to work with and they have a set mind. Are you able to adapt in the event you have differences with other members of the commission?” he asked.

But Saeed maintained that he will bring nothing short of discipline and his administration skills. “When you move out of the military you need to be adaptable to the environment you are in. We need to do things with precision, we need to have discipline because majority of organisations lack discipline and that is how they go down,” he said. 

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