7 February 2013

Kenya: IEBC Gets Tough On Campaign Posters

Candidates and political parties will have up to seven days after the close of the polls to remove their campaign posters and banners. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission yesterday released a raft of stiff measures to curb electoral offences.

"Except for cases where there is a re-run in respect of any election candidates...shall be responsible for the removal of all their banners, placards and posters erected during the election period within seven days after the close of the polls," the Elections Handbook for Security Personnel released by IEBC states.

Violators will be sanctioned through formal warnings, fines and other penalties determined by the commission. The commission has also appointed "special police officers" from the National Youth Service, the Kenya Wildlife Service and the Kenya Forest Service to assist the National Police Service during the March 4 polls.

Chief electoral officer James Oswago said the only way to avoid the recurrence of the 2007-08 post-election violence is to have a firm collaboration between the IEBC and the police service.

"This is going to be one of the most complex and well-managed elections Africa has ever seen," Oswago said. The Police Service Act provides that the IEBC, in consultation with the Inspector General, can appoint special police officers at any time.

The appointment of these special police will only apply during the March 4 general election. The IEBC will require enhanced security for the safety of the electoral materials and to maintain public order.

There will be 33,000 polling stations across the country that will be manned by two police officers each. The IEBC requires strong police presence at the national tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya and at its warehouses across the country.

The handbook spells out stiffer penalties to electoral offenders, who include candidates, their supporters, political parties and IEBC staff. It was published purposely to provide quick reference to the officers who will be on duty on the polling day.

Oswago said the commission is collaborating with the Judiciary to have the cases on electoral offences heard and determined within a maximum period of three days.

The commission, the Director of Public Prosecution and the police service has published samples of charge sheets to make the work of security personnel easy.

According to the handbook, Kenyans who accept inducements in return for supporting a particular candidate will be liable for up to six years in prison.

The Elections Act and Regulations make it an offence for a voter "to accept or take food, drink, refreshments, money, ticket or adopt a means or device of procuring them" if such is meant to influence the voter's support.

The handbook spells out 13 offences that members and staff of IEBC can be charged with, including if they refuse to report an offence to IEBC.

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