Independent aspirants eyeing various seats in the August General Election have protested against various conditions set by the electoral agency, including the requirement to get signatures from a specified number of supporters in areas they seek the seats.
Through the Independent Candidates’ Forum, a lobby group to fight for the rights of the party-less aspirants, the aspirants said the requirement had become a huge predicament that could lock most of them out of the race.
For presidential hopefuls, independent candidates are required to collect 48,000 signatures—at least 2,000 from at least 24 of the 47 counties—with the electoral team requiring them to make a copy of the identity cards as proof of consent.
For governors, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) expects them submit at least 500 signatures, while senators require at least 2,000. Members of Parliament have to submit 1,000 signatures, while those seeking member of the county assembly (MCA) seats require 500 signatures.
While the requirement to get the signatures was hard enough, the aspirants said, requiring them to have copies of the identity cards was making it even worse.
“We as the independent aspirants in the coming August, 9 Election, are expressing our total dissatisfaction with the IEBC requirement that we collect and make copies of ID cards of our signature to the forms of validating our nomination as candidates operating as independent candidates form Kenya,” said Esther Thairu, who chairs the lobby group.
She added: “We wish to categorically state that this requirement is discriminatory, untimely, punitive, expensive, intrusive to citizen privacy and requirements are not enforced in previous elections.”
Gospel singer Reuben Kigame, who wants to run for president as an independent, said the IEBC have not conducted any civic Education or sensitized citizens on the collection of ID requirement which has subjected to many independent candidates facing a lot of challenges.
“We are here to ask the IEBC to remove the obstacle of ID collection so that we can proceed with the signature procedure, or if they could sensitize in educating the people of Kenya that this is an election process and that we would collect their photocopies of IDs , because our concerns are the timelines are too short and many of our independent candidates have not received their papers,” Mr Kagame said.
They said the IEBC had changed the rules midway.
“We also have checked with several candidates who vied for the various positions in 2013-2017 General Election, and they confirm that this requirement was not enforced then. In addition, during the collection of signatures for the recent BBI process , this was not a requirement. Unless this matter is dealt with, we are convinced that IEBC will be giving undue advantage to Government sponsored candidate such as those in Azimio who have access not just the government resources and funding, but human resources,” Ms Thairu said.
The Independent candidates, however, urged IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati to postpone the requirement for the coming Election, saying it will give the candidates a fair playing field.
A total of 7,292 Kenyans have been cleared to contest as independent candidates, awaiting IEBC’s final clearance on whether they will be on the ballot.
Of these, 47 want to run for President, 107 for governor, 151 for Senate, 112 for woman representative, 973 for MP, and a staggering 5,902 for MCA seat.