Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), has criticized a proposal by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team to distribute 70 new constituencies to 28 counties.
Appearing before the joint Justice and Legal Affairs Committees of Parliament on the BBI Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill, 2020 on Wednesday, Chebukati termed the proposal on the allocation of the additional constituencies as unconstitutional.
According to the IEBC boss, while BBI promoters are right to create the constituencies, they erred in allocating them to specific counties.
He told the MPs that the distribution of constituencies in the devolved units is the work of the commission as stipulated in Articles 84(4)(c) and 89 of the Constitution.
“It is in order for Parliament or through a referendum to create additional constituencies but the work of allocating them is work of IEBC, ” Chebukati said.
The BBI Bill recommends an additional 70 MP seats in what its drafters say is meant to address the under-representation issue in heavily populated counties.
The 14-member BBI steering committee that was tasked with the role of overseeing the implementation of the first BBI report that was unveiled in 2019 proposed that the population quota be capped at 132,138 people per Member of Parliament.
The proposal will see the National Assembly have a total of 360 MPs up from the current 290.
This means that Nairobi County which currently has 17 constituencies will get an additional 16 new seats to serve its 4,397,073 residents. The population statistics are drawn from the 2019 Census report.
Kiambu County, which is the second most populous counties in the country with a population of 2,417,705, will be allocated six new constituencies if the proposals are adopted.
Chebukati noted that while the commission appeared before the BBI taskforce their submissions touched mainly on strategies to curb poll chaos in the country.
The commission, he added, was never consulted by the BBI promoters on the additional constituencies.
He further told the committee that the commission is ready for a referendum that according to BBI proponents is scheduled for June but concerned about funds.