The Star (Nairobi)

Kenya: Ex-Zambia Leader to Give Tips On Run-Off

FORMER President of Zambia Rupiah Banda is the guest speaker at a two-day seminar on presidential election run-offs starting this morning in Nairobi.

Banda lost power to the current President Michael Sata in September 2011 after serving for only one term. He lost by about 200,000 votes. He had trounced Sata by just 35,000 votes in the 2008 run-off triggered by death of President Levy Mwanawasa.

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chair Issack Ahmed is slated to brief participants on the commission's readiness to conduct a presidential run-off.

This will be the first time the country will be conducting a presidential run-off.

The forum is organised by the IEBC, Judiciary, Kenyatta University and Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy.

"The conference contemplates a possible presidential run-off election as stated under Article 138 of the constitution. This will be a historic electoral occurrence and hence the need to reflect on the possible challenges, opportunities and preparedness," said Lilian Arika, the CEO of the Judiciary Working Committee on Elections Preparations.

Other guest speakers at the forum are deputy chair of Ghanaian Electoral Commission Amadu Sulley, former director of elections in Senegal Macoumba Coume, andformer electoral commissioner Ken Nyaundi.

Both Ghana and Senegal have run-off arrangements and have experience actual run-offs. In the December 2008 Ghanaian presidential elections, no candidate received the more than 50 per cent of the votes as required by the country's laws.

A run off was held later in the same month between the two candidates who had most votes- Nana Akufo0Addo and John Atta Mills. Mills was later declared the winner with a margin of less than one per cent.

In March last year, Senegal conducted a run-off election pitting the eventual winner and current president Macky Sall against immediate former president Abdoulaye Wade.

Kenyan pollsters have in the past predicted a run-off after the March 4 election. The run-off will be held if the winning candidate misses out on the 50 per cent plus one vote or fails to clinch 25 per cent of votes in at least 24 counties.

The run-off will be limited to two candidates- the one who attained the highest and the other with second highest number of votes.

"The conference will be a neutral platform where the academia and practitioners can have a discourse on the theoretical and practical aspects of an election run-off," Arika who is also a magistrate said.

The Supreme Court has already said it will entertain disputes arising from the conduct of the first round election. The 30 day period within which the second round elections will be held start counting after the Supreme Court issues its verdict.

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