IEBC is unfair, say independent aspirants over signatures rule

Independent Candidate Forum of Kenya chairperson Esther Thairu (second left), presidential candidate Reuben Kagame (black suit, centre)  leads other members from across the country as they protest IEBC demands from independent candidates at IEBC Headquarters, Nairobi yesterday. [Jenipher Wachie, Standard]

Independent aspirants have raised the red flag on new conditions requiring them to collect signatures and copies of national identity cards of their supporters.

The aspirants yesterday said the condition imposed by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) does not provide a level playing field.

 ‘‘We wish to categorically state that this requirement is discriminatory, untimely, punitive, expensive, intrusive to citizen privacy and a requirement not enforced by IEBC in previous elections,’’ said the Independent Candidates Forum of Kenya chairperson Esther Thairu.

The group comprises those eyeing elective seats in the August 9 General Election. The aspirants running for the presidency are, for example, supposed to collect signatures of 2,000 supporters from at least 24 counties before IEBC clears them to vie.

They are also to submit copies of the identity cards of the supporters when returning nomination papers.

Those seeking the governor’s seat will submit 500 signatures, while aspirants for Senate must gather 2,000.

Aspiring MPs and Woman Reps are supposed to have the backing of 1,000 supporters and 500 for MCAs.

Symbols the parties and independents intend to use have to be approved by the commission 21 days before nomination day.

Independent aspirants are also expected to have a clearance certificate from the Registrar of Political Parties indicating that the person was not a member of any political party for the last three months before elections.

Speaking outside IEBC offices in Nairobi, Ms Thairu, who is vying for the Nairobi governor’s seat, said the demand for signatures come too late and accused IEBC of scheming to lock out potential candidates.

“This requirement is unfair to independent candidates because it is put close to the qualification deadline, seeing that candidates have a short time to collect all that is required. The time between the gazettement and return of the documents and ID card copies is barely two weeks,” she said.

“The timing is ill-intentioned. The collection of ID cards from citizens is difficult because of prevailing fear of data abuse.”

Mr Reuben Kigame, who is seeking the presidency, asked the IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati to postpone the requirement to give all candidates a fair playing ground.

“Should the IEBC insist, then we ask that sufficient sensitisation be done by giving information to voters to the effect that this is an election requirement and allay their fear regarding data abuse,” he said.

He asked the commission to extend the deadline and make available all the necessary materials “including reissuing presidential candidates with a new set of booklets given that they had already used up the first set without collecting ID copies.’’

Ranjana Goresia, MCA aspirant, asked the electoral agency to conduct civic education on the requirement.

“The civic education is necessary for this requirement to avoid unnecessary challenges,’’ Goresia said.

Aspirants are also required to establish and maintain a functioning office in the areas they are contesting, which must be available for inspection by the commission at least 45 days before the elections.

They are required to give the agency their contacts, including the physical address.

Some 46 aspirants have been cleared by the Registrar of Political Parties to run for president, and are awaiting IEBC nod.

Also cleared as independents are 106 for the governor’s positions, 147 in the senatorial race and 110 for Woman Rep.