IEBC sets new date for election in violence-hit counties
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has pushed to on Saturday, October 28 elections in four counties which suffered disruptions as hooligans interfered with the elections and some polling officers refused to do their job.
IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the electoral agency has asked the police to provide security for the elections on the new date in Migori, Siaya, Homa Bay and Kisumu counties.
The four counties are strongholds of Raila Odinga, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) Presidential candidate who informally withdrew from the race and asked his supporters to stay away from polling stations.
They have a combined 1,863,182 registered voters – 457,957 in Siaya, 539,593 in Kisumu, 476,932 in Homa Bay and 388,700 in Migori.
“Security is not in the hands of the commission. We were promised security by the Inspector-General of the Police and the government agencies and once we get feedback from them we shall be able to see how we can manage the movement of materials and the security of our officers in the affected counties,” said Mr Chebukati.
Mr Odinga had an overwhelming majority of the support in the four counties in the August 8 elections, getting 99 per cent of the votes in Siaya, 97 per cent in Kisumu, 99 per cent in Homa Bay and 85 per cent in Migori.
Some of the more creative means of preventing voting were seen in Kisumu, where gates to the schools where voting was to take place were welded or riveted shut, making it hard to access the compounds. In some places, the presiding officers and clerks failed to show up.
The Elections Act and the regulations allow the IEBC to postpone an election if it believes that a serious breach of the peace is likely to occur if it is held, if it is impossible because of a natural disaster or an emergency and if there has been an electoral malpractice so big that the election cannot proceed.
The Elections Act also provides for the IEBC to declare the winner of an election if it is of the opinion that the results missing would not make much of a difference. It states, in Section 55B (3): “Notwithstanding the provisions of this section, the Commission may, if satisfied that the result of the elections will not be affected by voting in the area in respect of which substituted dates have been appointed, direct that a return of the elections be made.”
At the first briefing of the day at about 4.20 pm, Mr Chebukati said the commission was still putting together its calculations of the turnout and would give it at the next briefing an hour and a half later.
The postponement of elections is allowed under the Election Regulations.
Mr Chebukati said that in Kitui, where some election materials were damaged after the bus ferrying them was swept away by floods, the situation had been sorted and voting later continued.
Apart from the disruptions, the chairman said that voting had proceeded smoothly and that in areas where polling stations opened late, they would be allowed to compensate for the time lost by closing after 5 p.m.