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The Nation (Nairobi)

Electoral body seeks changes to poll rules
By David Mugonyi
March 4, 2004

Voter registration should be synchronised with identity cards issue, the Electoral Commission of Kenya has recommended.

This would help the commission to ensure every eligible Kenyan is registered as a voter and reduce the cost of registration, ECK Chairman Samuel Kivuitu said yesterday. The ECK proposed moving the General Election from December as this is a holiday month when Kenyans preferred to spend time with their families.

Some parts of the country were affected by short rains during the month, making them inaccessible.

Kenyans living abroad should be allowed to vote through the consulates and embassies, while those with special needs should cast ballots in advance.

Delegates at the ongoing constitutional review have recommended that elections be held in August.

The commission asked for resources for long-term planning and centralised registration of voters. Funds are also required to educate the public and update voter registers.

The commission wants the number of constituencies increased to address under-representation of densely populated areas. It also backed proportional representation.

Mr Kivuitu announced the recommendations at the launch of the ECK's 2004-2008 strategic plan in Nairobi.

According to the plan, the ECK wants laws enacted to control registration of many small parties, which had made the commission's work difficult.

New laws are also needed to govern nomination of candidates by political parties.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs Minister Kiraitu Murungi, who launched the plan, proposed that the commission be allowed to conduct party nominations.

He said the proposals by ECK would be incorporated into the Political Parties Bill due to be presented to Parliament.

The commission proposes an independent arbitration process for election disputes as court cases take long and are expensive. The ECK is asking for trained security personnel to oversee elections. The police should also have their own election fund independent of the ECK budget.

Some local authorities serve no purpose and should be scrapped, the report says.

To stem electoral violence, peace committees should be formed to work with the provincial administration and the police. The committees could be effective in mediating conflicts before they affect elections.

The ECK reported 26 cases of double registration of parliamentary and civic candidates in the 2002 elections. Narc had the most cases, 18, followed by Kanu, Ford People and the Social Democratic Party with four four, three and one, respectively.

In the current financial year, the commission received Sh4 billion from the Treasury, Sh1.8 billion short of its budget.


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