26 October 2007

Kenya: ECK Sets Poll Date As Raila Maintains Lead

Nairobi — Kenya's next General Election will be held on Thursday December 27, the Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman, Mr Samuel Kivuitu has said.

Last Monday, President Kibaki dissolved Parliament paving the way for the Speaker of the National Assembly Mr Francis Ole Kaparo to issue a writ declaring all the 210 parliamentary seats vacant.

Addressing the Press at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, Nairobi, on Friday, Kivuitu said: "The members were elected on December 27 2002 (and) the ECK is now bound by the Constitution and the Law to conduct elections to fill those vacancies".

The ECK boss, whose tenure of office ends on December 2, also set the formal presidential nominations for November 14 and 15 while the parliamentary nominations shall be conducted on November 23 and 24.

"The Constitution provides that once Parliament is dissolved, election must also be held in respect of the office of the President. Hence, we shall also hold elections for the office of the President," said Kivuitu.

He revealed that 14,248,838 Kenyans registered as voters and out of these, 7,541,382 are male with 6,707,142 being female. Interestingly, 314 people who registered did not identify their sex.

"These figures are exclusive of voters who registered between September 16 and October 23," he said adding that the newly registered voters will participate in the December polls.

He revealed that 188,222 persons registered as voters more than once.

Saying these persons are not included in the voters registers, Kivuitu revealed that ECK will supply all the polling stations with "the lists of the names of these persons so that in case they attempt to vote, they would be handed over to the police".

Even as Kivuiti made known the election date, ODM presidential candidate Mr Raila Odinga has maintained the lead in the opinion polls released by Steadman Group on Friday.

Raila comes ahead of President Kibaki of PNU and ODM-Kenya's Mr Kalonzo Musyoka.

The latest opinion poll ratings put Raila at 50 per cent, Kibaki at 39 per cent while Kalonzo comes third with 8 percent. Raila, who stood at 53 per cent two weeks ago, has dropped three points while Kibaki moved one point to touch 39.

On the other hand, Kalonzo has maintained the same eight per cent mark that he had in previous poll ratings.

The majimbo issue has also emerged as a key election issue with 38 percent of those polled feeling it should be introduced against 44 per cent who are against it.

Meanwhile, Kivuitu has said he is prepared to retire at the expiry of his term on December 2. Fielding questions from journalists at KICC on Friday soon after announcing election date, Kivuitu said he has set his mind on organising a successful General Election and expressed confidence that all would be in place by the time he departs the ECK, should the President fail to renew his contract.

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