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Reduce cost of planned referendum, ODM says
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|Reduce cost of planned referendum, ODM says by Kenyans247(1): Fri 25, December, 2020 10:46am|
The move by the electoral agency to reduce its budget to verify BBI referendum drive signatures by Sh150 million has re-ignited a push by the Raila Odinga-led ODM to slash the cost of the planned referendum, which the commission has placed at Sh14 billion.
While the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had quoted Sh241 million to verify the 4.4 million signatures submitted by the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) team, a push by Treasury saw this come down to Sh93 million, a reduction the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) says can be replicated in the plebiscite budget.
“We have always argued that elections in this country can always be cheaper and we have been vindicated by this development in the IEBC. We are sure that once their proposed budget for the referendum is scrutinised, it will drop significantly,” ODM secretary general Edwin Sifuna told the Nation yesterday.
The signature verification budget request by the IEBC had last week triggered a call by Mr Odinga for the commission's disbandment, saying it had failed in its core mandate and was not considerate of the situation and cost-cutting measures proposed by elections stakeholders.
Read: Raila rubbishes IEBC on referendum cost, wants agency overhauled
“They have outrageous demands. The problem with this country is trusting the wrong people with public offices. Let them resign and give us an opportunity to hire a new team that can deliver results,” Mr Odinga said on Friday in Kisii.
Mr Odinga has insisted that the BBI referendum can cost as little as Sh2 billion, with his party arguing that this can be done by cutting down on what they see as unnecessary costs.
Mr Odinga’s call for the IEBC chiefs to be fired came just a month after a proposal to fire IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati and Commissioners Abdi Guliye and Boya Molu in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) was dropped at the last minute, with the remaining law in place.
President Kenyatta recently signed into law a bill that creates a seven-member IEBC selection panel — on whose hands the job to fill the four posts will lie.
Read: Broke IEBC on the edge as it reels under Sh3bn debt
The Parliamentary Service Commission will, in the new law, name four of the seven IEBC selection panel members, with one person nominated by the Law Society of Kenya (LSK), as well as two picked by the Inter-religious Council of Kenya.
But MPs allied to Deputy President William Ruto think the call by Mr Odinga to fire Mr Chebukati and his team was insincere.
Read: How will struggling Treasury fund BBI?
“The IEBC debate is a convenient sideshow meant to hammer home the point that elections are determined by an organ and not the people. Some people have been alarmed by the increasing popularity of a candidate and want to send fear among the followers that however much you have the people, your fate is determined by an institution,” Belgut MP Nelson Koech told the Nation. Mr Koech said the Chebukati team should be left to complete its term.
“We should be focusing on legislation to strengthen the commission, not weaken it,” Mr Koech said in an interview.
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