Record 500,000 personnel to man August elections

From (left) Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba, Commissioner Roselyn Kwamboka, Deputy Chairperson Consolata Nkatha and Chairman Wafula Chebukati during the National elections conference held at Nairobi. (Photo: Willis Awandu/Standard)

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will deploy more than half a million officers to man the August 8 polls.

The officials include those who will play direct roles in the voting process and security personel who will be deployed to cover the exercise.

The number also includes 500 special prosecutors who have been trained by the Director of Prosecutions (DPP) to help prosecute individuals found to be violating the electoral laws, and 92 magistrates to hear the cases.

Currently, the IEBC is seeking to recruit 359,958 officials who will get a minimum contract of nine days and a maximum of 30 days depending on the positions they will be hired for.

This includes 262,665 polling clerks who will man all the 41,000 polling centres, 91,032 presiding and deputy presiding officers and 5,054 support electoral trainers.

The clerks will man the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System’s (KIEMS) 41,000 technology kits after undergoing training. The IEBC acquired 45,000 kits for Sh3.8 billion from French firm Safran.

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Temporary basis

The commission estimates that it will deploy at least six clerks per polling centre, a presiding officer, a deputy presiding officer, two police officers and a driver.

The electoral agency is also in the process of hiring 580 county ICT clerks, 337 logistics officers and 290 deputy returning officers. IEBC plans to deploy at least two ICT clerks per constituency.

The 359,958 staff who will serve on temporary basis will join about 900 permanent staff of the commission from both the field and headquarters.

The electoral agency has already gazetted all county election managers (CEMs) to serve as county returning officers (CROs) for the election of governors, woman representatives and senators. Some 290 constituency election coordinators (CECs) have been gazetted in line with the law as returning officers (ROs) for the positions of MPs, MCAs and the presidential elections at the constituency level.

The officials will work under the supervision of the commission chaired by Wafula Chebukati and the secretariat headed by Ezra Chiloba.

Chebukati has the support of six other commissioners, while Chiloba has two deputies – Betty Nyabuto-Sungura and Hussein Marjan – nine directors, and 17 managers who are domiciled at the Anniversary Towers office.

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“We have trained our officers and are in the process of hiring polling clerks. The commission has also concluded the procurement of strategic and non-strategic election materials and we are ready to hold free, fair, credible and peaceful elections,” Chebukati says.

The commission will also require boats, two fixed-wing aeroplanes and two helicopters to airlift materials and personnel as and when required.

“Some constituencies in Lamu, Turkana, Homa Bay, Siaya, Tana River, Busia and Baringo counties have polling stations that can only be accessed by boat. The commission will therefore require boats to facilitate movement of materials,” IEBC communications manager Andrew Limo told Sunday Standard.

On the election day, the IEBC will be deploying 150,000 police officers who will play different roles from the polling centres to tallying centres. The officers have already undergone training on electoral laws.

Although currently the number of serving police officers in both the regular and administration police units is about 105,000, the Inspector General of Police is allowed by law to tap extra numbers from other disciplined services and gazette them as special officers to be under his command.

Special officers

Two officers will man each polling station, meaning 82,000 cops will be directly stationed at the centres, while the rest will secure tallying centres at the constituency, county and national levels.

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Extra officers will be put on standby to be deployed in cases of emergency and any support such as logistics, and respond to incidents that threaten peace on polling day.

IEBC has already gazetted all the constituency and county tallying centres while the national tallying centre has been retained at the Bomas of Kenya.

Officers from the Kenya Prisons Service, Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forest Service and National Youth Service will be enlisted to boost security. The personnel will be gazetted as special police officers to achieve the required numbers.

Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet said the role of the special officers was to enforce the law before, during and after the elections.

“We will not be political, we will be impartial and apply the law as it is. We will take no nonsense from anybody irrespective of their political affiliations,” said Mr Boinnet during the launch of an election security manual on May 9.

A total of 14,552 candidates have so far been cleared to compete for the available 1,882 seats across the country. This includes eight presidential candidates.

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