The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Voter Target Overambitious - Prime Minister

Photo: UNMIS
Registration period comes to an end.

PRIME Minister Raila Odinga and the electoral commission chairman Isaak Hassan publicly differed over who is to blame for the low low turnout in voter registration.

The PM accused the IEBC of initiating an "overambitious" programme of registering 18 million voters in 30 days. He said the electorate should not be blamed for failing to turn up in large numbers to enlist as voters.

"Giving only 30 days in a programme aimed at capturing 18 million people in 30 days was an over ambitious move by the IEBC and we cannot whatsoever blame the voters for failing to turn up in large numbers to register as voters," the PM said.

Raila was speaking at the joint Parliament-Kenya Private Sector Alliance conference at Leisure Lodge in South Coast. The function was attended by President Kibaki, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and omore than 40 MPs.

Raila said the delay in procurement of the Biometric Voter Registration kit contributed to the IEBC's tight programme leading to poor turnout.

"IEBC must follow up voter registration process by voters crosschecking their particulars to avoid a situation where names might be misspelled or left out like the case of Ghana's recent elections," Raila said.

But in a quick rejoinder, Hassan, while addressing the same gathering, said the commission is not to blame for the poor turnout. He said Kenyans themselves are to blame as they have a habit of waiting for the last minute to rush.

"I would like to differ with the honourable PM because it was very possible to capture 18 million voters within the 30 days. If only 50 Kenyans turned up to register everyday the target would have been realized. If Nigeria and Bangaladesh attained over 80 million people in one month, what is 18 million in 30 days?" posed Hassan.

Hassan caused laughter when he said Kenyans including politicians had perfected the art of concluding deals in the last minute including the political coalitions formation recently which he said were also concluded at the close of their deadline.

National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende also urged IEBC to conduct free and fair elections that will not be criticized after the March 4, 2013 general elections. He said the polls must be beyond reproach.

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