11 February 2013

Kenya: Treasury in U.S.$23.5 Million Poll Runoff Boost

Nairobi — Kenya's Treasury last week moved to stave off fears that the economy is broke and unable to handle a presidential second run off.

With just about three weeks to the much anticipated general election, the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) went public with the revelations that it only has budget enough to manage the general election up to announcement of the results in the first round.

This even as all opinion polls pointed to a head to head duel between Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Finance Minister Uhuru Kenya.

The weekly polls all saw Raila only leading by two percentage points at 44% on average while Uhuru was coming second with 2% on average.

Notably, none of the two presidential candidates will manage to carry the 51% constitutionally agreed on to win the race in the first round.

The scenario would see Kenyans going back to the polls two weeks after the first poll with a duel pitting the winner and runner-up in the elections.

IEBC needs an extra $23.5 million to manage a run-off. This is in addition to the $200 million already allocated to the commission for the polls. Initially, the commission had handed a $353 million bill for the March 2013 poll.

This was however rubbished by parliament and the cabinet as exorbitant and not realistic with the government telling the commission to handle the poll with the available budget or pack and leave for another team to conduct the task.

Finance Minister Njeru Githae however moved to reassure an apprehensive public and international community that the government has measures in place to ensure that funds are availed in case of a presidential run-off.

"We already have some $23.5 million as part of the run-off budget and expecting the balance from a section of the donor community anytime next week. I would however encourage Kenyans to make a decisive choice come March 4th in order to save the economy of these extra costs," said the Finance Minister.

Kenya through the government has committed to investing whatever resources it will take for a peaceful, free and fair poll in efforts to repair the damage caused by the 2007 elections.

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