Senators accuse governors of ‘redrawing border lines’

Tuesday, September 22nd, 2020 00:00 |
Senate in session. Photo/PD/File

Hillary Mageka @hillarymageka

Senators have raised alarm over what they term as “expansionist tendencies” by some governors ahead of the delimitation of boundaries by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The lawmakers have alleged that some county chiefs are abrogating themselves undue powers and re-drawing county boundaries.

Senators have since warned that attempts to alter the boundaries may ignite a fireball in the country.

Led by Makueni Senator Mutula Kilonzo Jnr, the legislators now want the electoral body to stop the boundaries delimitation process scheduled to kick off on September 30, 2020.

“The only way to protect the counties through the Building Bridges Initiative is to protect their boundaries.

The Senate must be clear that we cannot delimitate constituencies and wards and leave out counties,” said Mutula.

IEBC is mandated by the Constitution to review boundaries of constituencies at intervals of not less than eight years, and not more than 12 years.

According to the Constitution, any review conducted by the electoral body shall be completed at least 12 months before a General Election.

“If a General Election is to be held within 12 months after the completion of a review by the commission, the new boundaries shall not take effect for purposes of that election,” Article 89 (4) says.

Kisumu and Vihiga counties are also locked in a dispute over the fast growing Maseno Township.

“This planned development, though in good faith, will most likely only work to increase hostility and animosity around Maseno area, especially from residents of Vihiga county because it is being undertaken on a contested area,” said Vihiga Senator George Khaniri in protest statement after Kisumu Governor Anyang’ Nyong’o unveiled Maseno as a municipality.

Valid concerns

Since development must be undertaken and residents’ concerns addressed, Khaniri advised that there must be consultation and public participation when county leadership decides to undertake development activities.

“Residents around Maseno, especially the Vihiga side, have concerns that include access to services, expenditure of revenue, management of the institutions in the area and employment.

These are all valid concerns that must be addressed,” the senator noted.  

According to Khaniri, Maseno Town is of great interest to both counties because of the high concentration of institutions, which seem to benefit only one county. 

Reacting to Khaniri’s statement, Garissa Senator Yusuf Haji questioned why successive governments had failed to resolve perennial border disputes.

He cited places such as Kapedo, which is contested between Turkana and Baringo counties, and has witnessed ethnic skirmishes since time immemorial.

While criticising Ny’ong’o, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula said no individual  has the right to arrogate himself the power to deal with a disputed boundary.

“I urge Prof Nyong’o, that issues of boundaries are not only emotive but can be potentially destructive and costly,” Wetang’ula said. 

On his part. Busia Senator Amos Wako asked the government to deal with the border dispute issue conclusively saying it was very sensitive and can easily cause chaos ahead of the 2022 polls.

“The people in the said area are a minority in Kisumu. If it is not solved now, it can also affect the delineation of constituency boundaries,” he added.

 Kericho’s Aaron Cheruiyot also warned Nyong’o over his expansion tendencies, which he claimed had caused so much chaos with his neighbours.

Citing Sondu Town that is also contested between Kericho and Kisumu, Cheruiyot said Ny’ong’o was causing tension in the region by elevating some of the contested towns like he did with Maseno.

 “There is also a similar complaint in Muhoroni, which is a border town between Kericho and Kisumu counties,” Cheruiyot said reiterating that his provocations are not auguring well for the co-existence of counties that border Kisumu county.

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