Let voters choose leaders peacefully
Tuesday, May 18th, 2021 00:00 | 2 mins read
Bonchari and Juja constituents go to the polls today to elect new leaders who will represent them in the National Assembly following the death of their former lawmakers.
Representation, especially in the legislative arms of government, has historically been an emotive issue in Kenya.
There is a sense of deprivation when residents of a constituency lack a voice in the room, particularly at a time the country is engrossed in a critical debate about reforming the Constitution touching on the Executive, resource distribution and representation.
The mini-polls, therefore, accord the Bonchari and Juja residents an opportunity for representation and participation in decision-making.
We are, however, worried that the country could to be treated to a repeat of ugly scenes witnessed during the recent by-elections in Matungu in Kakamega county and London ward in Nakuru county that were characterised by violence and claims of intimidation by forces seen to favour certain candidates.
An election can only be credible if it is conducted in an environment that allows healthy competition, fairness and transparency.
Indeed, the Supreme Court has set the threshold on the conduct of credible elections in Kenya.
No Kenyan requires reminding about the cost of disputed elections in the country, a matter promoters want addressed through the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that is currently the subject of a national conversation.
That is why we are concerned about reports of harassment and intimidation of potential voters and candidates.
There cannot be any justification for use of excessive police force in an election as it may end up scaring away voters.
Kenyan leaders must inculcate a culture in which they compete with decency and maturity.
We are also concerned about reports that dubious politicians could be exploiting vulnerability of rural communities to buy their voters’ cards for a fee, effectively defranchising them.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has expressed confidence that it was committed to deliver credible elections in the two constituencies.
We strongly believe that the commission will execute its mandate as set out in the Constitution in service of the voters.
The impunity displayed in polls in Kenya must be punished and individuals misusing state resources for political purposes tamed.
The people of Juja and Bonchari must be allowed to choose their leaders peacefully devoid of bullying and intimidation.