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Kenyan Official Warns Lack of Funding Threatens Referendum

  • Peter Clottey

The chairman of Kenya’s Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) told VOA insufficient funds could derail the electoral body’s mandate to organize the scheduled 4th August constitutional referendum.

Ahmed Isaack Hassan said the Ministry of Finance failed to provide adequate funding needed for the electoral body to conduct the upcoming referendum, despite repeated appeals.

“Today, we had a meeting with the parliamentary committee on legal affairs and, of course, explained that, until we get the full amount we require, we will not be able to hold the referendum on 4th of August,” he said.

Kenya’s parliamentary Committee on Legal Affairs has reportedly summoned the finance and justice ministers, as well as officials of the electoral commission, to resolve any problems that could derail the upcoming referendum.

Kenya's post-election violence prompted demands for state institution reforms

Kenya's post-election violence prompted demands for state institution reforms

The electoral commission estimates that it needs Sh4.6 billion ($ 56,440,332) in order to be able to organize the vote. But, Kenya’s treasury only provided Sh2.6billion ($31,886,033) for the referendum.

Kenyans are scheduled to decide whether to accept or reject a proposed constitution in the 4th August referendum.

Analysts have said Kenyans demand for reform could be undermined if the electoral body is incapable of organizing the referendum.

Kenyans, as well as the international community, demanded reforms of state institutions following the 2007 post-election violence that led to the loss of life and destroyed property.

Chairman Hassan said Kenyans will not be pleased if the lack of adequate funding derails the referendum.

“I don’t think it will be something that we will all be happy about. And, I do not think that we will not get the funding that we require. I think, after the meeting with the relevant government ministries, we should be able to get the full funding we require. Because, I think it is absolutely inconceivable that we could come this far and then do not get the last requirement for the funding to complete the job,” Hassan said.

He further said that the electoral body has already procured the ballot boxes, as well as the ballot papers, and other relevant materials, including the training of electoral officials, needed for the 4th August referendum.

Kenya’s media quoted Attorney General Mutula Kilonzo as saying that the Finance Ministry (or the treasury) has often failed to provide adequate funds for created commissions, including the Truth, Justice and Reconciliation Commission, as well as the National Cohesion and Integration Commission tasked with carrying out specific functions on behalf of Kenyans.

Electoral commission chief Hassan also said that the finance ministry has been suing for the power of the purse to control the electoral body.

“We have been having problems with the treasury from the time we started the voter registration exercise because of the large amount of money we require to be able to execute our mandate. We have been having serious challenges from treasury on the issue of the financial independence of the commission,” Hassan said.

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