NAIROBI,Kenya Oct 13 – The Election Observation Group (ELOG) has called for expedited conclusion of pending electoral reforms by December warning further delays could hinder election preparedness.
ELOG’s call mirrors a similar appeal by the electoral commission which asked lawmakers to concluded envisaged reforms in time to allow the poll agency a reasonable time frame to factor in any changes.
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati had previously stated that delayed enactment of electoral laws might jeopardize efforts made so far to ensure credible polls.
The observation group pointed out that failure of a clear legislative framework for the polls by end of the year might incapacitate the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and affect its ability to conduct a free and fair election.
National Council of Churches of Kenya NCCK Secretary General Rev Chris Kinyanjui, who organization forms the membership of ELOG, said the electoral commission cannot make adequate preparations without the timely conclusion of changes to the legal framework.
“We have noted that parliament have been aware of the pending electoral bills for two or three years. Parliament has had a tendency of passing bills at the last minute. Previous ELOG reports have shown that last minute change to the law will affect election preparations. We urge the August house to pass the bills by December this year,” Kinyanjui stated.
ELOG further criticized Parliament for rejecting campaign financing limits proposed by the IEBC.
“We condemn parliament for nullifying the bill because we don’t want to go to an election where instead of conducting the polls,we conduct an auction,” he said.
On September 30, the National Assembly voted to annul the Campaign Financing Limits Regulations which would have seen presidential candidates limited to spending Sh4.4 billion and political parties Sh17 billion.
The lawmakers accused the electoral body of delaying the submissions of the draft regulations.
ELOG however insisted that there was adequate time to consider the proposed regulations and finalize on the same.
“Its not too late for the house to legislate on the issues of electoral financing. There is need to legislate on the matter so that the poll doesn’t became an arena of the highest bidder,” the group said.
ELOG further raised concerns over delays in recruiting a substantive Chief Executive Officer of the IEBC, a few months to the polls.
“We recommend that there is need for the electoral body to hire a substantive CEO even as we gears towards the elections,” Kinyanjui read.
The post of the CEO fell vacant following Ezra Chiloba’s exit in 2018 at the height of an audit that raised numerous queries in the commission’s expenditures. He was appointed the Director General for the Communication Authority on September 30, 2021.
The poll body has been on the spot for taking too long to recruit a substantive CEO.
Marjan Marjan, the Deputy CEO, assumed the CEO role also doubling up as the Commission Secretary in an acting capacity since Chiloba’s exit.
The replacement of four commissioners who resigned after the 2017 polls was also concluded in September, years after speculation over the status of the Commission and its quorum.
ELOG also urged the registrar of persons to hasten the issuance of IDs within seven days to afford unregistered persons an opportunity to be listed in the voters’ roll.
ELOG raised concern that the low voter registration witnessed across the country might have been caused by voter apathy occasioned by a trust deficit at IEBC.
“We urge those who have not collected their IDS to go out and collect them and register in numbers,” the observer group stated.
IEBC is struggling to reach its target of 4.5 million new voters by November 2, having missed its target of 1.5 million voters in the first week of an ongoing voter registration campaign which commenced on October 4. The agency had only listed 202,518 new voters by October 11, representing 13 per cent of the targeted population.