In its basic definition, politics is the pursuit of state power, and elections are the means to legitimize that pursuit. Recalling that the people are the supreme authority in Kenya, it is imperative that there are clear laws that provide for periodic elections so that the people can handover the instruments of state power to those they choose. Consequently, the New Constitution has set out time-lines to govern election dates in Kenya. First and foremost, general elections (for all seats) must be held simultaneously, at 5 year intervals. Excerpts from Chapter 8 - The Legislature, Article 101 on the date of elections of Members of Parliament, i.e., of Senators to serve in the Senate, and of Members of the Constituencies and Women Representatives of the Counties who will serve in the National Assembly:
101. (1) A general election of members of Parliament shall be held on the second Tuesday in August in every fifth year.
Excerpts from Chapter 9 - The Executive, on the date of election of the President:
136. (2) An election of the President shall be held–– (a) on the same day as a general election of Members of Parliament, being the second Tuesday in August, in every fifth year; ........
The date for the election of Members of the County Assemblies is captured in Chapter 11 - Devolved Government:
177. (1) A county assembly consists of— (a) members elected by the registered voters of the wards, ....... on the same day as a general election of Members of Parliament, being the second Tuesday in August, in every fifth year;
The same date applies for the election of the County Governor:
180. (1) The county governor shall be directly elected by the voters registered in the county, on the same day as a general election of Members of Parliament, being the second Tuesday in August, in every fifth year.
The election date remains the same for all the six seats that will be contested for at all general elections even if the IEBC should choose to stagger the balloting process over say, 2 days. The drafters of the New Constitution considered that it is important to have general elections conducted and dispensed with once every five years. Sixth Schedule - Transitional and Consequential Provisions, Article 9, excerpts:
9. (1) The first elections for the President, the National Assembly, the Senate, county assemblies and county governors under this Constitution shall be held at the same time, ........
The foregoing not withstanding, the Court of Appeal has had occasion to rule that the 10th Parliament must complete its 5 year term which began in January of 2008. Hence the Assembly will automatically dissolve in January 2013, after which elections must be held within 60 days.
9. (1) The first elections ........ under this Constitution shall be held ........ within sixty days after the dissolution of the National Assembly at the end of its term.
Accordingly, the body mandated to set the date of elections i.e., the IEBC has already announced March 4, 2013 as the date of the first general elections under the New Constitution. The exceptional circumstances that could alter this date are captured in Article 9. (2) of the Sixth Schedule:
9. (2) Despite subsection (1), if the coalition established under the National Accord is dissolved and general elections are held before 2012, elections for the first county assemblies and governors shall be held during 2012.
NB. If the next elections should be held in 2017, i.e., on "the second Tuesday of August in every fifth year" the next Parliament and County Assemblies will serve for four years and three months (until June of that year), while the national and county Governments will serve for about four years and 5 months (until August of the same year).