The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has postponed polls that were scheduled in various parts of the country indefinitely due to the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
In a statement on Wednesday evening, Wafula Chebukati, the commission chairman, said the pandemic has posed unprecedented challenges that have disrupted the operations of the electoral body.
Wafula noted that the ban on social gatherings and the dusk to dawn curfew is likely to affect the conduct of the elections hence the decision.
The decision affects by-elections that were scheduled in Dabaso Ward in Kilifi County, Kisumu North Ward in Kisumu County, Kahawa Wendani Ward in Kiambu County and Wundanyi/Mbale Ward in Taita Taveta County.
Dabaso by-election had been scheduled to take place on April 29.
The Commission also postponed a mini-poll in Msambweni Constituency in Kwale County. The Parliamentary seat fell vacant following the death of Suleiman Dori last month.
“The President, among other pronouncements, spelt out a raft of measures that included, but not limited to, suspension of social gatherings, maintaining social distance and indeed a nationwide 7 pm to 5 am curfew, ” said Chebukati.
“…While the Commission is at all times ready to discharge its mandate and has despite the prevailing crisis made a lot of efforts to maintain minimal operations, this state of affairs has posed unprecedented challenges. Not only have the day to day operations of the Commission been adversely disrupted, but also the conduct of the upcoming by-elections will be adversely affected.”
The commission noted that the changes are in the best interest of Kenyans.
“In conducting elections, it is inevitable that meetings will be held as well as nominations, campaigns and the poll itself, to mention but a few, all involving human contact. Thus, it would be difficult to achieve these activities without exposing the public to the risk of contracting the disease, ” he added.
“While the Commission recognizes the citizens’ rights to vote and to representation, and takes cognizance that elections are held within strict legal and constitutional timelines, the Commission has resolved to postpone the by-elections to a later date in line with, Section 55(B) of the Elections Act, 2011 and Regulation 64(A) of the Elections (General) Regulations, 2012.”