17 January 2013

Kenya: Parties Forced to Extend Primaries

Photo: D. Hakes/Carter Center Photos
A man has his finger dipped in ink after voting (file photo)

Nairobi — Three major parties including The National Alliance (TNA), Wiper Democratic Movement (WDM) and the United Republican Party (URP) have extended their nominations to Friday to cover areas that were unable able to conduct the exercise.

The parties blamed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) for delays in releasing voters' registers which were needed for voting, but the commission dismissed the claims saying it had no business delivering the documents to parties.

URP chairman Francis ole Kaparo said the party would extend the deadline for some constituencies in Nakuru, Bomet, Uasin Gishu, Trans Nzoia, Elgeyo/Marakwet and Narok Counties.

"Those areas that did not get a chance to vote will get another day to do so. We have decided to give them extra time to do it tomorrow," he said on Thursday afternoon.

The Wiper party said the extension would only cover Makueni County with the party's Secretary General Mutula Kilonzo saying ballot papers and voters' register had not yet arrived as late as 5pm.

"I think it was a conspiracy to deny me nomination because the same thing has also happened in Kangundo where Johnson Muthama comes from. Some people are not happy that we pushed our party leader to CORD," claimed Kilonzo.

Both Kilonzo and Kaparo had asked the President and Prime Minister to consider closing public schools on Friday to cover the lost time.

Kilonzo promised to extend the first term by two days to compensate for the lost time, saying it would allow parties to conduct their scheduled nominations and beat constitutional deadlines.

"I am pleading with the government, the teachers and the pupils to extend their kindness to us tomorrow and allow us to use their schools again," appealed Kaparo.

However a government memo indicated that learning would not be halted for a second day to facilitate the exercise.

"It is unfortunate but I will still appeal to the president again because if I ask the prime minister it will appear like he is doing it for political reasons," argued Kilonzo.

"Each citizen is entitled to a political right. Do you think an extra day will affect our children and I have already promised to extend the term by two days because of this so my appeal still stands," he maintained.

Kaparo had also told reporters that the party would use schools and social halls to conduct the primaries in the event that the government declined to make public schools available.

He told his party members to use churches to carry out their nominations.

"We request our officers to use any public buildings, not private, within the area of specific polling stations in their areas. If necessary they should begin scouting for them and negotiate so that we can use the adjacent facilities," he said.

The parties were supposed to submit their final lists of candidates to the IEBC by January 18.

The electoral commission has now extended this deadline to January 21.

Martha Karua's Narc Kenya is the only party that has finalised its nominations and had been expected to submit its nominee list to the IEBC this week.

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