Boundaries row might derail poll date, warn MPs

PHOTO / FILE

IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan (right) presents the revised preliminary report of the proposed boundaries of constituencies and wards to committee on justice and legal affairs vice chairman Njoroge Baiya at County hall on February 9, 2012.

A row over boundaries for the new constituencies and county wards may derail the election calendar and make it impossible to have elections in December.

A House committee and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission have both rejected the push for new wards and constituencies from most of the 500 petitioners, who had qualms with the commission’s proposals for the 290 constituencies and 1,450 wards. (READ: Did MPs create wards for themselves?)

This failure to yield to the demands, according to acting chairman of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, Mr Njoroge Baiya, will expose the process to mass litigation and open doors for a constitutional challenge on the time limit within which the Judiciary should determine petitions over delimitation.

The worry over litigation arises out of an inconsistency in law, Mr Baiya told the Nation on Sunday.

Mr Baiya said that whereas the IEBC Act — the guide for the current delimitation exercise — gave the Judiciary one month to determine all matters regarding the new constituencies and boundaries, the Constitution had allocated the same process up to three months.

“If anyone goes to court and points out that inconsistency, it will disrupt the whole calendar of elections,” Mr Baiya said.

“The truth is that the Constitution is supreme, and any law which is not consistent with it is null and void to the extent of the unconstitutionality”.

The Cabinet and the IEBC had all settled on December 17, 2012 — the third Monday in December — as the election date.

However, even if the Constitution is amended to show that date, it will be difficult to hold the polls on that date if there’s a delay in the delimitation of the electoral zones. Without the electoral zones, the country can’t move on.

Tuesday is the last day for Parliament to review the report of the IEBC and review the report of the Legal Affairs Committee.

It will then submit it to the IEBC, which will then have 14 days to go through the changes proposed from Parliament and decide whether to accept or reject them.

Kenya Gazette

After that, the final report will be published in the Kenya Gazette or in two newspapers of national circulation.

Under the law, it is only then, that anyone with unaddressed grievances will be free to go to court to object to the report.

All grievances have to be filed in the court within a month of publication of the official report.

If the matter ends up in court, the court will have to determine it within a month before the IEBC begins planning for the next polls based on the new boundaries and constituencies.

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