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Be impartial or get punished, INEC cautions officials ahead of party primaries

INEC among poll observers for Kenya’s election

Ahead of the party primary elections, the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC), has cautioned its officials across the country to remain fair and apolitical or risk being sanctioned.

Professor Mahmood Yakubu, chairman of INEC, gave the caution on Friday at the second regular quarterly consultative meeting with Resident Electoral Commissioners (RECs) at the commission’s headquarters in Abuja.

Yakubu’s warning ahead of the primary elections by numerous political parties to choose and elect their candidates for the offices of the president, governors, and other numerous positions in the upcoming general polls.

“As required by the law, the commission shall monitor the primaries in the constituencies where the parties intend to field candidates” Yakubu briefed the RECs. This means that the state offices will be heavily involved in the exercise.

He further said, “I urge you to exercise our monitoring responsibility with absolute neutrality. There are sanctions for violation of the law, and you should know this and warn our staff accordingly”.

The INEC chairman informed that the electoral umpire had released the timetable and schedule of activities for the 2023 general elections a day after the Electoral Act, 2022 was signed into law.

Read also: INEC presents 2022-2026 strategic, 2023 election project plans

The INEC chief stated that the next activity under the timetable was the conduct of party primaries by political parties, saying that 14 parties have so far submitted their notices and schedule of primaries to the commission.

Yakubu also clarified that by the provision of Section 77 of the Electoral Act, political parties are obligated to sustain a membership register in hard and soft copy, and to make such register available to INEC not later than 30 days before the date fixed for primaries, congresses, and conventions.

Furthermore, “So far, only one political party has complied”, he said. “It is a mandatory requirement of the law, and all parties are expected to comply.

“Doing otherwise is like going into an election without the register of voters. There can be no credible primary or general elections without a credible register of voters”, he concluded.