Kenya Urges Quicker Electoral Reforms to Meet 2017 Vote Date

  • Government says election won’t be rescheduled from Aug. 8
  • Polling body’s commissioners set to leave office mid-October

Kenya’s government said it’s urging a quicker overhaul of the national electoral body so it’s completed before Aug. 8, 2017, the date the East African country’s constitution stipulates it must hold the vote.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s board must step down by mid-October to allow the recruitment of new officials and for the electoral reform process to go forward, according to government spokesman Eric Kiraithe.

Kenya’s administration “wants to see the process expedited,” Kiraithe said by phone from the capital, Nairobi, on Tuesday. “Everybody with a part to play must do their part.”

President Uhuru Kenyatta on Sept. 16 assented to law amendments that will remove IEBC commissioners and overhaul the voter register in a bid to calm nationwide protests earlier in the year by the main opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy, which demanded the changes.

Kenyan Attorney-General Githu Muigai told lawmakers on July 20 they may consider moving the vote from Aug. 8 if the electoral reforms drag on. Kiraithe said that the preparations and timing of the polling won’t be affected. “We will ensure that elections take place on time,” he said.

A committee made up of representatives of the Treasury, attorney-general and Interior Ministry has been established to negotiate and facilitate the “orderly and dignified exit” of the IEBC commissioners, Kiraithe said later Tuesday in an e-mailed statement.

Kenyatta, 54, is seeking a second term in next year’s vote as the candidate for the Jubilee Party, the product of a recent merger of smaller political groups. He will probably square off against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, if the ex-premier is chosen as CORD’s candidate.

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