Kenya heading to a referendum over 2017 polls date

Kenya heading to a referendum over 2017 polls date

A referendum call is in the offing should the National Assembly agree to change the 2017 General Elections dates from August to December.

This is according to the Constitution Implementation Commission (CIC) and the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) who say that pushing the election date from August to December will affect the Presidential term necessitating a referendum.

CIC chair Charles Nyachae says any changes to the electoral dates must be subject to a constitutional review which must be through a referendum.

Nyachae  said factors like the term of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will also inform the decision by Members of Parliament to change the elections dates.

IEBC has set the next General Elections for August 8th, 2017.

IEBC says it had adopted the date in compliance with the constitution despite insistence by some lawmakers that their 5-year term ends in March 2018.

Last month, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said only an amendment to the constitution can alter the election date, even as he confirmed that the commission was preparing for a 6-ballot election, despite calls for staggering the exercise

The Supreme Court had in an advisory opinion in 2012 helped answer the question on the date Kenyans would go to the polls for the first time under a new constitutional order.

IEBC said the Supreme Court opinion did not alter the constitutional provision that a general election be held every second Tuesday in August, every five years.

“Unless Parliament amends the law, we retain the August date. But if the law is changed, we will work with whatever date we are given, the administration of elections is separate from the date issue,” said Chiloba.

Some parliamentarians have insisted they were elected for a 5-year term that ends in March 2018.

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Maureen Murimi
Story By Maureen Murimi
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