Kenya Electoral Body Says It's On Track to Hold Fair Aug. 8 Voteby
Audited voter lists will be ready 30 days prior, agency says
Washington-based NDI had said time short for preparing polls
Kenya’s electoral body committed to holding free elections as scheduled on Aug. 8 amid concern that organizing the polls in East Africa’s biggest economy in time will be difficult.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission will have audited voter registration lists ready 30 days before the vote, its head, Ezra Chiloba, told reporters Monday in the capital, Nairobi. President Uhuru Kenyatta is running for a second term against former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who’s failed in three previous presidential bids.
“Citizens must trust that the commission is doing the right thing to ensure that the law is followed to the letter,” Chiloba said. “I want to assure all stakeholders that our commitment to a free, fair and credible process is steadfast.”
Kenyan elections are fractious times for investors because of violence that engulfed the nation in three of the past five votes. In a disputed December 2007 vote, ethnic violence left 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 more to flee their homes. The polls may “heighten political instability,” according to the International Monetary Fund, which cut its growth 2017 forecast for Kenya to 5.3 percent from an earlier 6 percent projection.
The Washington-based National Democratic Institute last month said Kenya’s government has failed to put adequate measures in place to deal with a potential outbreak of violence around the elections. It also said delays in installing new members of the IEBC until Jan. 20 left the authority with less than seven months to organize the elections, timing that “would be difficult in any country.”
Chiloba said the IEBC estimates about 19.6 million people have registered to vote. The commission will distribute 11,000 biometric kits used to verify voter identification on May 11, so they can be tested before the elections, he said.