Between hope and despair


After months of pressure and street protests, from the political opposition and civil society, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the IEBC, commissioners have accepted to resign themselves from their now previous duties.

The call for their resignation is an attempt at preparations for, mainly, an election process that is devoid of a dollop of the numerous bureaucratic delays that have occurred previously, the same issues which are bound to lead t a politically charged atmosphere, and its unwarranted tension and clashes, instead of relatively smooth and peacefully elections.

The functions of the IEBC vary. It is, amongst others, charged with the core responsibility of conducting and/or managing elections of all parties to ensure fair representation and curb malpractices during party elections.
Its previous efforts, in meeting this function, aforementioned, have been found by, mainly, the opposition, and other critics, from the civil society and elsewhere, to be of wanting integrity. In curing that cancer, they have, gradually, called and literally fought for the disbanding of the IEBC commissioners, something which has, fortunately for them, happened.

To the political opposition and the civil society, a commission without integrity inevitably puts the interests and the rights of all validly registered voters at risk, as it would not be able to conduct elections in a free and fair, transparent, and credible manner in compliance with the constitution and the law.

Kenya is a country of wonderful people who have done rather quite well in picking themselves up from, inter alia, the crisis that was the post election violence of early 2008. One of the many reasons that led to that violence was an election process which was found to be wanting, and not as free and fair as it ought to be. All thanks to the elections conducting authority of the day.

A return to the same incompetency today would add up to a violation of the basic rights of the people of Kenya, rights whose protection begins with the protection of the decisions they make while casting their votes.
In addition to the foregoing, in the Constitution of the Kenya 2010 electoral posts refer to presidential, parliamentary, governor (gubernatorial) or county elections and includes a by-election. Those positions are the ones taken up by people who form part of a government upon which people are meant to depend to deliver their promise of a better future. For them to be effectively taken up, the IEBC must be at its very best while conducting the process that identifies such officers of the government. As an example, in the implementation of a devolved government, especially under the dispensation of the new Constitution, the IEBC is mandated with facilitating the determination of both constituencies and wards. This and more responsibilities cannot be left to an entity whose character is questionable.

It is incumbent upon the IEBC not to just appear to be neutral and fair in all its engagements or, rather, while meeting its responsibilities. It must be nothing but neutral and fair. Its commissioners say they are ready to go home to pave way for a new team to oversee the forthcoming – the 2017 – elections, elections which everyone hopes will bear characteristics of a free and fair enough process.

Apparently, many are genuinely worried about 2017. It is their wish and hope that the country does not plunge into chaos, which the tension does not escalate into anything unfathomable. That, is all they need.

This article was originally written for Bitala & Co. Advocates’ newsletter, The Deuteronomy


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