IEBC's Report on Boundaries

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has launched boundaries that define the new constituencies. The commission said it would conduct public hearings in all the 47 counties to get Kenyans' views on the boundaries for constituencies and wards. The Commission will also accept emails and written submissions hand delivered to the Constituency Election Coordination Office. Concerns have already started mounting over the report, which is almost a replica of the report prepared by the now defunct Interim Independent Boundaries Review Commission (IIBRC), led by Andrew Ligale.

The IEBC chairman Isaac Hassan explained that the IEBC had to use the IIBRC report as their primary reference point as required by the Constitution and didn't have much choice. The IEBC also used the parliamentary report on the Ligale document as its second reference point.

The report has allocated Rift Valley Province the largest share of new constituencies increasing its parliamentary representation to 76 from 49. Central Province was to get an additional five seats from the current 29. Nairobi was set to double its constituencies from eight while Nyanza got 10 new units, bringing its strength to 41. North Eastern was to increase its MPs from 11 to 18, while the densely populated Eastern Province was to get 8 additional constituencies. Western Province was to get 10 extra constituencies while the Coast Province was to get 5 to bring its representation to 26. This brings the total number of constituencies to 290 up from 210 in line with the provisions of the Constitution of Kenya 2010.
Constitutional Provisions

Article 88(4) (a) of the Constitution mandates the IEBC to delimit (draw the boundaries of ) constituencies and wards. Article 89 of the constitution gives lengthy provisions on the delimitation of electoral units. According to paragraph (1) there needs to be two hundred and ninety constituencies set up by the Commission for the purposes of the election of the members of the National Assembly. Below are further constitutional provisions on the same.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission shall review the names and boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than twelve years, but any review shall be completed at least twelve months before a general election of members of Parliament.

The Commission shall review the number, names and boundaries of wards periodically.

If a general election is to be held within twelve months after the completion of a review by the Commission, the new boundaries shall not take effect for purposes of that election.

Various considerations were to be given by the IEBC to ensure that they were not inconsistent with the provisions of the law in performing this task. For instance,

The boundaries of each constituency shall be such that the number of inhabitants in the constituency is, as nearly as possible, equal to the population quota, but the number of inhabitants of a constituency may be greater or lesser than the population to take account of—

  • geographical features and urban centres;
  • community of interest, historical, economic and cultural ties.
  • means of communication.

In addition, the number of inhabitants of a constituency or ward may be greater or lesser than the population quota by a margin of not more than forty per cent for cities and sparsely populated areas; and thirty per cent for the other areas. Population quota means the number obtained by dividing the number of inhabitants of Kenya by the number of constituencies or wards, into which Kenya is divided.

In the process of reviewing the constituency and ward boundaries the Commission is to consult all interested parties; and work progressively towards ensuring that the number of inhabitants in each constituency and ward is, as nearly as possible, equal to the population quota.

The Commission is mandated to alter the names and boundaries of constituencies, and the number, names and boundaries of wards where necessary. The names and details of the boundaries of constituencies and wards determined by the Commission shall be published in the Gazette, and shall come into effect on the dissolution of Parliament. However, if dissatisfied by the Commission's decision on this matter, a person may apply to the High Court for review such a decision.

An application for the review of such a decision should be made within thirty days of the publication of the decision in the Gazette and should be heard and determined within three months of the date on which it is filed.

Public contributions can be made either through written submissions that are hand delivered to IEBC offices at the Anniversary Towers in Nairobi, or through entries made to IEBC's website.

After the 21-day period for public participation, the commission will take 14 days to look into any concerns raised before considering them in the final report. The report will then be forwarded to the parliamentary committee on Justice and Legal Affairs, which will again take another 14 days to scrutinize it before presenting it in Parliament. Members of Parliament will then have seven days to debate the report and adopt it with or without amendments after which it will be returned to the IEBC for an extra 14 days before it is gazetted and published.

Hon. Mutula Kilonzo of the Ministry of Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs is quoted as indicating that there shall be no extension on these deadlines. This is because they are not only clearly stipulated by the law, but also any delay would mean missing important benchmarks set out in the schedule for the implementation of the Constitution.

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