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We have no cash to verify ‘Okoa Kenya’ signatures, IEBC tells cord

The electoral commission has said that it may not complete the verification of the Okoa Kenya referendum signatures due to lack of cash, 13 days to the February 4 deadline.

Article 257 of the Constitution gives the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) 90 days to verify the 1.4 million signatures prepared by the Opposition Cord coalition to hold the Okoa Kenya referendum.

The coalition presented the papers to the commission on November 9, 2015.

The team is required to verify that those listed are registered voters and meet the one million mark threshold to push the Bill to the next level.

SUPPLEMENTARY BUDGET

The commission’s chief executive, Dr Ezra Chiloba, on Thursday said that they had completed the preliminary work, and was awaiting the passage of a supplementary budget to complete the verification.

“The commission has requested funds under the supplementary budget to move to the next level. We have completed preliminary work awaiting funds to move to the next level of verification,” Dr Chiloba said.

The commission already indicated that it was underfunded this year when it requested Sh2 billion but only got Sh500 million.

Dr Chiloba has suggested that to save money, the referendum question could be included in the General Election ballot paper.

“The referendum is not guaranteed because the sponsors must persuade at least half of the 47 counties to approve the Bill for it to proceed. But Kenyans will have to decide the best sequence, because having a major electoral event in the same cycle as the General Election has its challenges,” said Dr Chiloba told the East African last week.

But Cord honchos on Thursday dismissed the claim of a broke IEBC and demanded that the referendum be held as planned.

UNDER OBLIGATION

“The IEBC is under a Constitutional obligation to ensure that they meet the deadline. All the other things are excuses and they go a long way to lend credence to our fears that the commission is under somebody else’s influence. They cannot raise the issue of less funding now,” said ODM political affairs director Opiyo Wandayi.

Outgoing Law Society of Kenya President Eric Mutua said the time of the verification cannot be extended.

According to Mr Mutua, the Constitution does not envision a case where the verification of the signatures go past the 90-day-period.

“The Constitution says ‘shall’ not ‘may” and that does not give room for extension of the time to verify the signatures,” said Mr Mutua.

In the Bill, Cord wants counties to control at least 45 per cent of the national revenue, governors to control security and the formation of a Ward Development Fund to be run by members of the county assemblies.

The Opposition coalition also wants the Senate to be involved in national government revenue allocation, to debate all Bills and not only those concerning county governments.

It further wants the Senate to participate in approval of appointments to constitutional commissions and institution and not exclusively National Assembly.

It also proposes that the commissioners of the electoral body be appointed by political parties based on their numerical strengths in Parliament

Dr Chiloba told the East African that the commission had mobilised 100 workers to convert the data from hard to soft copy.