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FACTSHEET: What you need to know about Kenya’s 2017 general election

This article is more than 6 years old

Close to 20 million Kenyans are registered to vote today. The date is set by the country’s constitution, which dictates that elections have to be held “on the same day… being the second Tuesday in August, in every fifth year”.

In addition to the country’s president, Kenyans will cast another 5 votes: for a county governor, member of parliament, county woman representative, senator and a member of the county assemblies.

The referee for the polls is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

  1. How many candidates are there?

According to the country’s electoral commission, 14,523 candidates will be vying for the 1,882 positions available.


  1. How many voters are there?

To register as a voter in Kenya, the law prescribes that one must be 18 years or older, and must have a national identity card or a passport. (Note: The electoral commission has asked voters to carry along the document that they used to register to be allowed to vote.)

Voting will also take place in 103 prisons and in five other countries on the continent for Kenyans who work and live there. The diaspora stations are located in:

    • Uganda (Kampala),

    • Tanzania (Dar es Salaam and Arusha),

    • South Africa (Pretoria),

    • Rwanda (Kigali), and

    • Burundi (Bujumbura).

  1. How much will the election cost?

A pre-election assessment report shows the country’s National Treasury has allocated close to KSh50 billion (US$481.2 million*) for the general election, with the bulk going to the electoral commission.

* Official exchange rate as per the Central Bank of Kenya on 4 August 2017.

  1. How many people will run the election?

The electoral commission will depend on 362,858 polling officials hired on a temporary basis and who will be deployed to each of the 40,883 polling stations in the country.

For security, the commission said it will have 180,000 special police officers on duty, with at least 2 security officers per polling station, electoral commission chairman Wafula Chebukati said.

  1. How will the president be decided?

Kenya’s 2010 constitution created 47 counties that became the new units of devolution of power and resources. The new constitution also emphasises that to be elected president, one has to get a majority of all the valid votes cast.

The repealed constitution prescribed that the president will be the candidate who got the highest number of votes and also a minimum of 25% of the valid votes cast in each of at least five of the eight provinces. The old electoral system emphasised a plurality, but not necessarily a majority of the valid votes cast.

Now, article 138(4) of the constitution provides that a candidate shall be declared president if the candidate receives: (a) more than half of all the votes cast in the election; and (b) at least 25% of the votes cast in each of 24 counties.

This year’s results will be released earlier than the time prescribed by the constitution, electoral commission secretary Ezra Chiloba said.

“The law gives us seven days to announce results but we want to announce the results much earlier… our target is not more than four days,” he said in an interview with Citizen TV.

  1. In which circumstances will there be a run-off?

The new constitution introduced a run-off if no candidate is elected outright. It states that “a fresh election shall be held within 30 days following the previous election”.

Article 138(5) directs that in this later election, the candidates “shall be: (a) the candidate, or the candidates, who received the greatest number of votes; and (b) the candidate, or the candidates, who received the second greatest number of votes”.

Article 138(7) provides that the candidate “who receives the most votes in the fresh election shall be declared elected as president”.

  1. How will a dispute be resolved?

The constitution gives an aggrieved party seven days to contest the results of a presidential election in the Supreme Court. The court then has 14 days to “hear and determine the petition” and its decision “shall be final”.

After Kenya’s previous presidential election, candidate Raila Odinga - who is up for election again - disputed the results in the Supreme Court. He contended that “the electoral process was so fundamentally flawed that it precluded the possibility of discerning whether the presidential results declared were lawful.”

The court dismissed Odinga’s petition, saying that the evidence cited did “not disclose any profound irregularity”. The opposition then complained that key evidence was ignored by the court and some respected constitutional lawyers also criticised the judgment.

If the 2017 presidential election is disputed, the deadline for filing a petition will be 22 August and the Supreme Court will have to reach a verdict on or before 5 September.

“If the Supreme Court determines the election of the president-elect to be invalid, a fresh election shall be held within sixty days after the determination,” article 140(3) of the constitution holds.

  1. How many women will participate in the polls?

The Kenyan constitution requires that no gender monopolises any state organ or government body.

“…the state shall take legislative and other measures to implement the principle that not more than two-thirds of the members of elective or appointive bodies shall be of the same gender,” article 27(8) of the Constitution reads.

“The numbers are not promising,” the Federation of Kenya Lawyers’ Josephine Mong’are told Africa Check.

Only one woman is on the presidential ballot - Mutua Miriam Muthika, running-mate to Prof Michael Wainaina, an independent candidate.

Nine women are vying for a governor’s seat: Jacinta Mwatela (Taita Taveta county), Charity Ngilu (Kitui county), Winnie Kaburu (Meru county), Wavinya Ndeti (Machakos county), Anne Waiguru and Martha Karua (Kirinyaga county), Joyce Laboso (Bomet county), Mable Muruli (Kakamega county) and Christine Atieno (Kisumu county).

The data also shows 131 women are angling for the 290 constituency parliamentary seats in the national assembly (6.9% of all candidates for these seats), 21 to be senator (8.2% of senatorial candidates), 299 for the county woman representative position and 900 to be a member of a county assembly (7.5% of the candidates).

Article 177(b) of the constitution allows county assemblies to add more members to “ensure that no more than two-thirds of the membership of the assembly are of the same gender”.

But there is no similar law yet for the national assembly, even after the judiciary ordered the last parliament to enact such a law. The eleventh parliament took its final recess before complying with the judicial order.


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