The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has launched the Annual Voter Education Week (AVEW) that will be conducted in all the 290 constituencies across the Country.
With the theme being ‘Inclusive Engagement and Education for a Stronger Democracy’, AVEW will run for a period of seven days where IEBC staff will engage citizens on election-related matters.
AVEW is an annual event that offers the Commission and its staff an opportunity to interact with voters, members of the public, partners and stakeholders in the 47 counties and 290 constituencies in the Country.
Speaking at the launch held at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, IEBC Chairman, Wafula Chebukati, said that during the exercise the Commission will sensitize citizens on the legal framework that governs election management in the Country.
The Chairman who expressed his gratitude to the British High Commission for funding the voter education week, said the IEBC is fully funded by the National Treasury, however, activities such as voter education and capacity requires donors support.
He at the same time noted that the Commission recognizes the political rights of Kenyans as well as their right to life, and assured of IEBC’s adherence to the covid-19 prevention and containment measures while executing education exercise.
“Majority of Kenyans are not aware that an election is not a single-day event. It is a culmination of robust groundwork, planning and preparation within the five years which starts after the conclusion of a general election,” said Chebukati.
He announced that the Commission has developed the IEBC 2020-2024 Strategic Plan which it shall use to uphold fidelity to the law and mandate bestowed upon them by the constitution and the people of Kenya.
Chebukati also urged Kenyans who have attained 18 years and above to acquire national identity cards and register as voters in preparation for the upcoming general elections.
Addressing the IEBC Commissioners and Staff, the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Jane Marriott, said that the sharing of information by IEBC is fundamental to demonstrating transparency and building citizens’ confidence in the elections process.
“United Kingdom collaborates with IEBC to provide technical assistance in areas prioritized by the 2017 elections evaluation assessment, which has been incorporated into the 2022 elections operational plan,” noted Marriott.
She added that UK’s support in the growth of Kenya being the leading democracy in the region is fundamental in building stronger standards for free, fair, and credible elections which she said will help to avoid incidences of violence in the 2022 general elections.
“Voters need to understand the IEBC’s mandate, strategic plan, and operation timelines before 2022 elections and what it means for them,” she stressed.
The High Commissioner at the same announced that the British Government will also support IEBC in areas of voter registration, as well as work with the office of registrar of political parties in encouraging women to register and run for elective offices.
Marriott also called upon Members of Parliament to urgently conclude the processing of the pending election reforms related Bills.
In his remarks, the United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UPDK) Board Member, Erick Ngodi, said persons with disabilities should be given a chance to fully participate in politics and decision making in the country as is a precondition for their rights.
“Politics is about power which in turn influences allocation of resources. We, PWDs need to be represented and empowered to have access to information in order to make informed decisions,” said Ngodi.
He added that the upcoming elections is an opportunity to create awareness on the rights of PWD and engage election management bodies in developing materials and policies affecting them.
Commenting on the inclusivity of PWD, Kenya Institute of Special Education (KISE) representative Johanna Mwihu said that collaboration between KISE and other stakeholders would ensure equality and equity for PWDs and help IEBC in moving Kenya towards a stronger democracy where all Kenyans enjoy their democratic rights.
Speaking at the event, the Maendeleo ya Wanawake National Chairperson Rahab Muiu urged the commission to involve unemployed youths in carrying out its duties.
By Moffin Opilio