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Test for IEBC in drive to verify Okoa Kenya signatures

POLITICS
By Roselyne Obala | February 4th 2016
Youths in Manyatta estate in Kisumu Central constituency register for identity cards on January 31, this year. [PHOTO: COLLINS ODUOR/STANDARD

NAIROBI: Work on the verification of the Okoa Kenya signatures is finally set to start, three months after they were submitted.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba said plans were underway to hire 120 clerks and a number of supervisors to fast track the exercise.

"The commission has appointed a team to be responsible for the process. A timeline will be released shortly," Mr Chiloba told The Standard in an interview.

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) had last November submitted 1.4 million signatures together with the Okoa Kenya Bill.

The IEBC boss revealed that the Treasury had given the agency Sh20 million, pending approval of the Supplementary Budget by Parliament.

It will also hire a special room from where the verification exercise will be conducted.

Chiloba, however, faulted the Opposition for complicating its work by submitting the signatures in hard copy, saying if all booklets had been submitted in soft copy the work would have been much faster as it would have involved running the data against the BVR documentation.

Though IEBC argues the law is silent on the period stipulation for the verification, Okoa Kenya Committee of Experts Chairman Paul Mwangi said it was 90 days.

"The Constitution is very clear the verification must be completed within 90 days, exactly three months. There is nothing doubtful about this process. We expect the Bill to go straight to the county assemblies once we are cleared next week," he reiterated.

MEETS REQUIREMENTS

IEBC Web and Media Manager Andrew Limo made reference to Article 257 (5) of the Constitution, which says: "If the IEBC is satisfied that the initiative meets the requirements of this Article, the commission shall submit the draft Bill to each county assembly for consideration within three months after the date it was submitted by the commission."

He maintained that the issue of timeliness applies once the poll agency hands over to county assemblies.

Meanwhile, the Opposition plans to shift its focus to county assemblies. There are also other parallel initiatives like Pesa Mashinani by governors and Boresha Maisha by some members of the National Assembly.

Governors are scheduled to meet next week over their push to amend the supreme law, and senators are also set to hold consultations among themselves to agree on their referendum bid, dubbed the Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2015.

Council of Governors Chairman Peter Munya is optimistic they will make progress after next week's meeting.

Kipchumba Murkomen, the chairman of the Senate Select Committee to Audit the Constitution, said the initiative to amend the supreme law might be realised after the 2017 polls or at the ballot.

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