Kenya 2022: IEBC threatens to suspend voting  in 31 areas

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 12 July 2022 12:42

Voter Registration in Nairobi, Kenya - 06 Feb 2022
An IEBC agent seen working, during the last day of mass voters registration in Kibera Slums on 6 February 2022. - Donwilson Odhiambo / SOPA Images

Despite it being less than a month to Kenya’s general polls, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has threatened to suspend elections in at least 31 electoral areas where there are pending court cases.

IEBC head Wafula Chebukati says the ongoing cases may interfere with the printing of ballot papers taking place in Dubai, which are due to end this week he adds. Waiting for the court cases to finish is not an option he said.

“The commission cannot wait forever, we shall be forced to suspend elections in those areas,” Chebukati warns.

Chebukati maintains that the printing of other elective material be done before the printing of the presidential ballot papers due to begin on 15 July, with representatives of the four presidential candidates available to witness.

The first batch of ballot papers arrived in the country last week on 7 July, an indication that the polls are around the corner.

High profile names in court

The 31 pending cases before the courts arose from the 325 disputes that were lodged by elective hopefuls against the IEBC’s Dispute Resolution Committee after their names were not accepted by the Commission. Although the committee reached a conclusion, the involved parties were not satisfied and sought to resolve the issue through the courts.

Among the high profile names was UDA Nairobi Gubernatorial candidate Johnson Sakaja. His name was blocked from the ballots on allegations his degree from Team University in Uganda is not authentic.

But on 12 July Tuesday morning, the High Court dismissed the case challenging Sakaja’s governorship candidature over his academic qualifications.

Sakaja, considered to be a confidant to William Ruto, says his case was a political witch hunt from the government to try and stop him from running because of his popularity in Kenya’s capital.

According to an Infotrack opinion poll released on 6 July, Sakaja is ahead of Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja candidate Polycarp Igathe by 39% in terms of popularity , with Igathe sitting at at 33%.

Another high profile case before the court is Mike Mbuvi Sonko, Wiper Democratic movements’s Mombasa Gubernatorial candidate.

Petitioners are trying to stop the former Nairobi Governor from contesting because they say his impeachment from office in 2020 over a gross violation of the constitution renders him unqualified to run.

Courts cases to conclude this week

Speaking during a two-day national conference in Nairobi on 11 July on the preparedness of the IEBC to conduct next month’s polls, Chief Justice Martha Koome gave a commitment that all pending election cases before various courts would be concluded by Friday this week.

“Disputes will be heard continuously until concluded,” she said in a speech read on her behalf by the Supreme Court Judge Njoki Ndung’u.

Brian Wanyama, a political analyst, says the electoral body has no-one to blame but itself for deciding to block politicians with questionable integrity issues.

“The IEBC should blame itself for this mess,” says Brian Wanyama, a political analyst. He says rather than block politicians with alleged issues of integrity, it should be focusing on delivering what Kenyans are hoping for: a free, fair, and transparent election.

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