The Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chair Wafula Chebukati has expressed his fears that the electoral body might not meet it targets yet again in the second round of the enhanced voter registration that comes to a close in five days.
Speaking outside the Garissa county commissioner’s office during an inspection tour of the ongoing exercise, Chebukati was however optimistic that if Kenyans turn out in the remaining few days, they might significantly close the gap. The exercise that begun on January 17 ends on Sunday February 6, 2022.
He said so far the commission had registered a paltry 500,000 eligible voters countrywide adding that majority were captured in the last one week.
“We are very far away from the national target. I know it is an uphill task but let’s cross the bridge when we reach there. It’s not too late, we still have one week. If Kenyans can come out in their numbers, we shall be able to serve them. Let us be hopeful,” Chebukati said.
“Mine is to appeal to Kenyans across the country to please take advantage of this last week and register so that you can be able to elect leaders of your choice,” he added.
The IEBC chair ruled out any extension noting that it will be the final phase in preparation for the August 9 General Election.
Chebukati further lauded residents of Garissa County for using the second phase to turn up in large numbers to register revealing that it was so far the leading county with a total of 8,736 against a target of 24,000.
During the first enhanced continuous voter registration exercise conducted between October 4, and November 5, 2021, Garissa County was second to with 50 per cent. Turkana was top with 63 per cent where over 5.2 million eligible Kenyans enrolled as new voters countrywide.
“I want to confirm it here that Garissa is doing very well as against other counties. We hope that by the end of the exercise many more with ID cards will have registered,” he said.
In Garissa, some of the reasons that were cited for low voter registration include lack of ID cards especially among the youth, voter apathy, lack of enough sensitization and drought. The later was said to be the main reason.
However, Chebukati said that with the government having issued out new ID cards recently, the youth who are yet to register should come out and register.
“My appeal to the residents is let us set a record with the remaining 16,000 youth coming out and register so that you can fully participate in the august polls. This is your democratic right to elect the leaders you want,” the chair said.
He further appealed to local leaders to continue mobilizing their people to register emphasizing on the important role they have played throughout the exercise.
Chebukati further revealed that all the electoral body’s programmes are running smoothly noting that after the voter registration exercise the next activity will be party primaries. He urged aspirants to promote their parties and themselves peacefully.
“Mine is just to appeal to aspirants that as you go round the country promoting your parties and yourselves please do so peacefully so that we don’t have any acrimony. For those who will not follow the law the commission will have a process to deal with them through a code of conduct committee,” said Chebukati.
He said that the commission will continue working closely with the office of the DPP and the NCIC and various security teams to tame politicians who ‘misbehave’.
By Jacob Songok