15 January 2013

Kenya: Electoral Commission Proposes School Closure

Photo: UN Photo/Eskinder Debebe
Primary school children (file photo).

Nairobi — The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has recommended the closure of schools on Thursday to facilitate nominations by political parties.

Speaking during a political parties liaison committee meeting, the commission's Chief Executive Officer James Oswago pointed out that learning may be interrupted if schools remain open during the party primaries.

"There are 1,882 positions that will be vied. Two hundred and ninety for Members of Parliament, 1,450 county assembly wards, 47 senators, 47 governors, 47 women representatives and one president. If you add those numbers up, there are 1,882 positions that you will have to deal with as part of these nominations," he said.

"As a result of this, no school can remain open during this period. We will ask the schools to facilitate the nomination process for a day. I do not know whether to call it closure because it will just be a pause of the learning process though the students may still be in the school. The day will however be compensated for later on in the term."

Oswago however indicated that the commission will not be involved in the process but will only monitor it.

"Monitoring an election of whatever nature is very important because that is the only way that you know there is a standard criteria or measure that everybody has adhered to. So the commission has developed a monitoring tool that we are going to use during this exercise," he said.

During the meeting, the Registrar of Political Parties Lucy Ndung'u also urged political parties to adhere to the code of conduct for political parties by restraining their supporters during the nomination exercise.

"The code of conduct is very clear. Every political party is bound it. Clause 5 is very clear. You must abide by this code and you must also be able to control your supporters, agents, candidates and everything within the process," she said.

The Inspector General of Police David Kimaiyo in the meantime assured that law enforcement agencies are adequately prepared for the nominations that will be treated as a mock election.

Kimaiyo explained that over 60,000 officers have been deployed to man the nominations countrywide.

He urged parties who feel they need more security to feel free to go to any police station and request for additional officers.

The Inspector General also gave an assurance that violence prone regions like the Tana Delta, Baragoi and Mathare were being closely monitored to ensure nominations are incident free.

"We are very vigilant. All the border police stations and other stations are working as a team to ensure that insecurity are dealt with," he said.

He further urged all competitors for political posts to maintain peace during and after the exercise.

"On the campaign period, after the nomination day on Friday as we present the candidates who have been nominated... it is important that those who may not be able to be nominated to accept the outcome of the results peacefully."

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