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Relief for parties as IEBC pushes nomination day

NATIONAL
By Josphat Thiong'o | October 2nd 2021

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (centre), Registrar Political Parties, Anne Nderitu (right) accompanied by Members of Political Parties Liaison Committee addressing a press conference, at Karen, Nairobi. [Samson Wire. Standard]

Political parties were handed a breather by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) when dates for primaries were pushed forward by 95 days.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati yesterday announced that the commission had reviewed its election operation plan first released on June 15, which decreed that the exercise be conducted within 34 days.

Similarly, the Commission also altered the date for gazettement of the General Election day from March 14, 2022, to January 19, 2022, since the law allows the listing in the official government document any time before 60 days.

According to IEBC, the review of dates will allow political parties ample time to undertake their party primaries.

Political parties, including Raila Odinga's ODM, had petitioned the commission to review the strict timelines to allow them to conduct proper primaries and have enough time to resolve disputes.

Initially, political parties were to conduct party primaries, resolve intra-party disputes and submit names of candidates between April 16, 2022 and May 19, 2022 (34 days).

The review has now seen the dates pushed from January 2022 to May 26, 2022, handing the commission a total of 129 days to get their affairs in order.  

“The commission has addressed the issue of the limited period for the conduct of party primaries. This shall, in turn, expand the timelines and allow parties a period of 129 days to conduct their party affairs,” said Chebukati.

The electoral agency boss urged political parties to familiarise themselves with the election operation plan, which provides a roadmap and key timelines of the election calendar.

"The plan imposes certain obligations on political parties intending to participate in elections," said the chairman as he vowed to crack the whip on all electoral offenders.

He added: "We will have all the disciplinary cards and we will not hesitate to flash out yellow or red cards, as part of the law, to any player that fails to adhere to the regulations in order to deliver free, fair and credible elections."

On August 31, ODM officials led by Secretary-General Edwin Sifuna and National Elections Board chair Catherine Mumma engaged the commission and discussed party primaries and electoral dispute resolution timelines.

As per the election operation plan, parties were required to submit nomination rules to the IEBC by October 18, six months before primaries.

Yesterday, Chebukati -- who was speaking at Hermosa Hotel in Nairobi during the political parties liaison committee engagement Forum that brings together representatives of all 75 registered political parties in the country -- announced that mass voter registration will be launched on Monday, October 4.

The mass listing is expected to continue until November 2, 2022, and targets to enlist six million new voters.

Chebukati also waded into the issue of electoral reforms and called on Parliament to ensure that any law changes were implemented before December 31.

IEBC commissioner Abdi Guliye said that the electoral agency was in the process of amending the timelines required for independent candidates to declare their candidature.

“We have already done a proposal, but it must go through Parliament. However, if the House does not adopt the proposal, then we will be stuck with the old timelines that encourage party hoping,” he said.

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