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Kenya Poll Chief Vows to Conduct Credible Elections

  • Peter Clottey

Kenya's Prime Minister, Raila Odinga makes an address to the public as President Mwai Kibaki and other members of parliament listen after an official announcement of provisional results of Kenya's constitutional referendum in Nairobi (file photo).

Kenya's Prime Minister, Raila Odinga makes an address to the public as President Mwai Kibaki and other members of parliament listen after an official announcement of provisional results of Kenya's constitutional referendum in Nairobi (file photo).

Officials of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are scheduled to meet Tuesday, to begin drawing constituencies ahead of next year’s general elections.

Commission chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassa, who together with his team was officially installed Monday, vowed to ensure that next year’s vote will be credible, free and fair.

Kenya’s new constitution gives the electoral body until February to create new constituencies, whose boundaries can later be challenged by the public.

“We will first embark on the completion of [drawing] the boundaries, which has been left pending. We are going to consult with the people and publish our report,” said Hassan. “We shall [also] start the voter registration exercise to enable more than 20 million Kenyans to be registered [so they can] take part in the general elections [next year].”

Kenya’s new constitution, Hassan said, allows citizens for the first time an opportunity to vote in the country’s embassies abroad. The previous constitution only allowed Kenyans abroad to “physically” vote in a local polling station when they return home.

Kenya’s 2007-2008 post-election violence left more than 1,300 people dead and displaced hundreds of thousands. Observers said the poorly managed vote contributed to the violence.

Some analysts have expressed concern there could be another round of violence if next year’s polls fail to meet a threshold of free fair and credible vote. Hassan underscored the need to ensure future elections meet that standard.

He also said to ensure the public’s confidence in the electoral body, it is critical that officials of the IEBC demonstrate integrity and that the entire election process is trustworthy and acceptable by voters.

Hassan said Kenya’s upcoming polls will make use of information technology.

“We have introduced electronic voter registration, electronic transmission of results and we have actually modernized the way we conduct elections,” said Hassan. “That’s why when we had the referendum last year, there was no [problem]. Nobody had any petition [against it].”

The electoral body has conducted more than 12 parliamentary by-elections and 50 other local ones. Hassan vowed the electoral body will ensure future polls are credible.

“In fact we have seen a situation where losers are actually conceding defeat because of the transparency and accountability we have [implemented],” said Hassan. “I believe the IEBC will build on that progress and make sure the next general elections will be transparent free and fair.”

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