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Sort out IEBC issues as soon as possible

By Editorial Team
Friday, November 20th, 2020
Wafula Chebukati. Photo/File
In summary

One of the reasons given for violence in nearly every election cycle in Kenya is lack of confidence in the national elections agency.

Losing political parties have always blamed the outcome on alleged unfairness by the electoral commission.

The 2007/8 post-election violence that claimed hundreds of lives was blamed on lack of faith in the electoral system as well as the Judiciary.

Over time the Judiciary seems to have regained its footing but doubts linger over the poll agency’s ability to conduct free, transparent and credible polls.

Indeed, the Supreme Court nullified the 2017 presidential election and ordered a repeat on account of the poll failing to meet the constitutional demands for credibility and transparency. 

The judges did not find any IEBC official individually culpable, but identified major problems with the agency’s handling of results and demanded it adopts significant remedial measures to restore public confidence in the process.

However, the opposition declined to participate in the repeat poll, opening room for chaos.

A number of IEBC commissioners resigned in a huff, protesting its leadership, further denting its credibility. 

Three years down the line, those who left are yet to be replaced while the position of chief executive still remains vacant.

We are aware Parliament has passed a law that will clear the way for appointment of the missing commissioners but there has not been movement by relevant authorities.

Two years into the next General Election, no critical reforms have been effected to restore confidence in the commission.

This falls into an unfortunate pattern in which the concerned groups have been reconstituting the critical agency too close to elections.

The net effect is a situation where ill-prepared and inexperienced personnel are entrusted with responsibilities in political process, often with disastrous consequences.

Currently, the country is discussing proposals in the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) that commissioners be appointed by political parties and current office holders be vetted afresh.

Already, the IEBC leadership and a section of politicians have protested against the recommendations, saying they will compromise impartiality.  

While we call for sober debate on the matter, we urge that issues touching on IEBC be sorted out as soon as possible for smooth management of 2022 polls.

This will help prevent anxieties and suspicions that have characterised elections, leading to violence, battered economy and loss of lives.

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