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IEBC to reject parties nomination lists that fail to meet two-thirds gender

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, addresses members of the press on April 26, 2022, at Anniversary Towers in Nairobi.[Edward Kiplimo, Standard]

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will reject nomination lists of parties that will not meet the two-thirds gender principle in selecting their candidates.

In a letter addressed to political parties, the IEBC directed them to pick at least a third of their candidates for all seats from one gender.

“In the event, a political party presents a list of 290 candidates for constituency based elective positions, not more than 193 candidates can be of the same gender,” read the letter by IEBC chairperson Wafula Chebukati.

Lists of candidates for county-based positions, such as Senate, must only include 31 candidates from one gender.

“In the event, a political party presents a list including less than 290 candidates for constituency based elective positions, the two-thirds gender principle will still apply for the number of names presented,” Mr Chebukati explained.

The guidelines will also apply on the county positions. The IEBC chairman said that they would write to the respective party, granting it 48 hours to re-submit a list that meets the gender principle.

“Do note that a revised list that does not comply with the two-thirds gender principle will be rejected in its totality and all candidates on the list cannot stand for election on August 9,” Mr Chebukati said.

The IEBC directive is meant to align with a judgement issued by the High Court requiring the commission to ensure that parties comply with the principle that has largely been a mirage since the implementation of the 2010 Constitution.

The judgment – which resulted from a suit by Katiba Institute against the IEBC – had required parties to establish regulations that would allow them realise the two-thirds principle. IEBC’s communication comes as parties conclude nominations and issue tickets to successful candidates.

“In default, the respondent was to devise an administrative mechanism to ensure that the two-third gender principle was realized among political parties during nomination exercises for parliamentary elections,” read the letter in part.

The implementation of the gender principle has flopped in Parliament several times. Former Chief Justice David Maraga advised the president to dissolve Parliament for failure to pass the gender law but this is yet to happen.