It’s all systems go for Kenya's referendum

TOM OTIENO | NATION
A security officer guards voting materials after they arrived at a warehouse in Kisumu Monday. The materials, at 17 regional warehouses, are being forwarded to polling stations.

What you need to know:

  • 63,000 police officers deployed to guard election materials and voters as ballot papers sent to constituencies

Kenya is ready and raring to go for Wednesday’s vote on the proposed constitution.

Voters, security agencies and the electoral commission were all set for the big day Monday.

Nearly 70,000 police officers have been sent to different parts of the country to guard voting centres and make sure the people are safe during and after the poll.

Police have also set up 10 hotlines for people to report any security threats. Up to 63,000 personnel from regular, administration and special police officers will provide security during the referendum.

At the same time, the Independent Interim Electoral Commission decreed an end to campaigns and warned against political advertising and any canvassing for votes.

This is in accordance with the law, which requires campaigns to cease 24 hours before voting day.

The meteorological department, meanwhile, predicted a rainy election day for voters in Western and parts of Coast and Rift Valley provinces.

For those in Nairobi and surrounding areas, it will be a cold day in the queues.

The IIEC started the distribution of voting materials to all the 26,000 polling centres by Monday.

And the government, in addition to declaring August 4 a holiday, gave public servants who need to travel far to cast their ballots the afternoon off Tuesday to ensure they reach the polling stations in time to vote.

IIEC confirmed it had delivered all voting materials to its 17 regional warehouses from where they will be moved to respective constituency warehouses for onward movement to the polling centres.

The materials, which include ballot papers, will be under police escort and will be guarded until the voting is completed.

Said police spokesman Eric Kiraithe: “We have made adequate security arrangements around the country for the day. Security personnel will be alert. We believe all will be well.”

The Kenya Power and Lighting Company said it had taken adequate measures to ensure the national vote tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya is not affected by blackouts.

“We have made arrangements and there is a special team from tomorrow that will monitor Bomas of Kenya to ensure that no blackouts affect the tallying of results. Even though we don’t foresee any problems, the emergency crews will be on standby,” Mr Kevin Sang, a KPLC communications officer, said.

On Monday, politicians in the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ camps used the last hours of the official campaign period to reach out to more voters.

President Kibaki and a team of the “Greens” were in Kitui and later addressed a rally in Kirigiti in Kiambu in their determination to push through the proposed constitution.

Prime Minister Raila Odinga addressed the nation on all radio stations urging the public to vote ‘Yes’ on Wednesday.

Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka was back in Kathiani, Machakos, two days after a crowd at a ‘No’ rally heckled him.

Saying that he was saddened by the Friday event, Mr Musyoka said: “I have been in Kathiani before and reception has always been good. I have every reason to believe that those who shouted at us were not people from here.”

Deputy PM Musalia Mudavadi and Internal Security minister George Saitoti addressed several rallies in Kapenguria.

In Nairobi, Cabinet ministers Mutula Kilonzo, Esther Murugi and Dalmas Otieno used a women’s prayer meeting organised by the Ministry of Justice to push for the passing of the proposed constitution.

Gender equality

They told more than 20,00 women gathered for the meeting to vote ‘Yes’ because the proposed document would entrench gender equality and open up opportunities for the Kenyan woman.

The ‘No’ team led by Higher Education minister William Ruto was in Garsen and later in Matuga in the hunt for more votes for the Reds in the Coast region.

Retired President Daniel arap Moi went back to Kericho to urge the residents to vote against the proposed constitution.

The last minute rallies came as the IIEC warned that it will be illegal to campaign for or against the proposed constitution on Tuesday and and Wednesday.

Referendum regulations published by the IIEC in May indicated that all campaigns must be brought to a halt 48 hours before polling starts.

The official campaign period started on July 13 though both the ‘Yes’ and ‘No’ teams had started their activities immediately the proposed constitution was published in May.

However, it was not all smooth sailing for the electoral body as it distributed voting material across the country.

In Nyanza, local election officials were forced to hire boats and motorcycles to ease transportation to various islands on Lake Victoria and in areas with harsh terrain.

Area coordinator George Oyugi said the electoral body had resorted to the measures to ensure that voting was not disrupted due to the late arrival of voting materials especially at polling centres on Lake Victoria.

In Nairobi, Mr Kiraithe said security personnel had been instructed to channel any security threat to their seniors, who will follow a special chain of command.

The operation centre at Vigilance House will be monitored by the director of Police Operations, Mr Julius Ndegwa, and the director of Logistics Omar Bakari Jambeni. It will be manned by other junior officers, including 21 trained in computer operations, on a 24-hour basis.

In a first-ever such operation, the 21 work stations will be connected to all police stations around the country through which communications will be promptly responded to.

Reinforced stations

“The idea is to retain the normal police channels, but Officers Commanding Police Stations (OCSs) and intelligence officers have been instructed to report any suspicious gatherings and activities. All OCPDs will directly communicate with Vigilance House during the referendum period. We have reinforced stations around the country with over 205 vehicles from all government departments,” Mr Kiraithe said.

All provincial police headquarters have been allocated funds for fuel and servicing of vehicles.

By Monday afternoon, most provincial police bosses had already received the funds and deployment schedules.

Welcome!

You're all set to enjoy unlimited Prime content.