The August 2017 General Elections are fast approaching: we are actually about 7 months away today.
The effect is being felt in various parts of the country as various political party officials are busy mobilizing the public to register as voters.
1. 2017 General Elections Date
Kenyans will elect their representatives on the 8th August 2017. This decision was made amid calls by some Members of Parliament to have the dates moved to December 2017. IEBC, however, ruled out such postponement.
2. The 25th General Election
The August 2017 elections will be Kenya’s 25th General Election in 96 years and the second under the new constitution.
3. New IEBC Chairman and Commissioners
President Kenyatta has appointed a new IEBC chairman and commissioners.
Wafula Chebukati will serve as the new chairman while Consolata Nkatha, Boya Molu, Roselyn Akombe, Paul Kurgat, Margaret Wanjala and Abdi Guliye will serve as commissioners.
The Chebukati-led team will oversee all phases of the election process including preparations.
Their appointment came after the Isaac Hassan-led team resigned following street protests staged by the opposition coupled with pressure from other bodies.
4. Electronic System with Manual Backup
Unlike in 2013, this year’s elections will have an electronic system backed by a manual system for the transmission of results.
In 2013, failure of electronic systems was one of the most contentious issues that led the opposition to challenge the results. Recently, opposition officials publicly opposed the use of a manual system as back-up terming the decision as a ploy by the ruling party to steal votes.
Despite such resistance and threats to take to the streets, President Kenyatta went ahead to sign the controversial bill into law.
5. Academic Qualifications
The IEBC has, in the past, proposed a change in academic qualifications of those vying for various political positions. The President, his deputy, the governor and his deputy are required to be degree holders.
IEBC had proposed that members of the Senate and MPs should be degree holders but this is yet to be made official. Nothing has officially changed to date; hence, the academic requirements remain the same.
6. Diaspora Voting
Kenyans living in the diaspora may have a chance to vote but they can only vote for their preferred presidential candidate. If this happens, it will be the first time that this group will vote remotely.
Ezra Chiloba, the IEBC CEO, has stated that the IEBC is committed to ensuring that Kenyans living in the Diaspora get a chance to participate in the 2017 General Elections. We cannot confirm whether this will happen.
7. Possibility of two grand coalitions
Late last year, the Jubilee Party was formed after at least thirteen political parties merged ahead of the 2017 elections. The National Alliance (TNA), United Republic Party (URP), and United Democratic Front (UDF) are perhaps the biggest parties in the merger.
On the other hand, the opposition has announced plans to form the National Super Alliance (NASA). At this point, various opposition parties are yet to officially and publicly lay out plans for the merger. We can only wait to see the direction that this will take.
8. Swearing in by a new Chief Justice
Justice David Maraga, the newly elected chief justice will swear in the elected president. Following the retirement of Willy Mutunga in 2016, Justice Maraga occupied the office of the chief justice.
9. Elections Results Management Framework
This framework will provide guidelines on how election results should be managed. It also outlines the roles of various parties at different stages of results processing. This framework is being introduced as a way of enhancing transparency and preventing confidence issues that arose during the 2013 General Elections.
10. Transmission of presidential results
Unlike in 2007, where results had to be transported by road or air, transmission of the 2017 General Election results will be announced at the polling stations and electronically transmit instantly to the constituency stations.