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December 11, 2018

IEBC has taken crucial step on road to credible election

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (R) confers with the CEO Ezra Chiloba at the press conference in Nairobi where they announced the cancellation of the registration of voters in the diaspora who are outside Africa on February 7, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (R) confers with the CEO Ezra Chiloba at the press conference in Nairobi where they announced the cancellation of the registration of voters in the diaspora who are outside Africa on February 7, 2017. Photo/Jack Owuor

THERE are two crucial institutions in Kenya that seem to have an in-built drift towards self-destruction.

One is the Ethics and Anti-corruption Commission. The other is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

In neither of these has a board of commissioners lasted for longer than a few years, and no amount of constitutionally guaranteed independence has been able to insulate either institution from the political storms of the day.

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As a result, the two institutions are very low down the scale when it comes to public confidence - even the simplest mistake attributable to human error will immediately give rise to suspicions of corruption or other wrongdoing.

In this context, it is a significant step forward for the IEBC that it has been able to reach out to key political figures on both sides of the divide, and to hold discussions on the progress made in the registration of voters, as well as to listen to their concerns.

Engaging all key actors and explaining to them what has been achieved – and, equally significant, what remains to be achieved – is key to keeping the political temperature at manageable levels and thus paving the way to a peaceful, free and transparent election.

For it is the tragic fact of Kenyan electoral history in recent years that you have to go back to 2002 to find a presidential election whose outcome was widely acceptable to all sides.

Both the 2007 election which brought about the massacres of the post-election violence and the 2013 election which brought no violence in its wake, but was bitterly contested all the same – neither of these was an election that was conducted in a manner which would lead to widespread acceptance of its results.

In 2007, we had the chair of the then Electoral Commission of Kenya stating plainly that he had no idea who won the presidential election. In 2013, we had an inexplicable breakdown of the electronic tallying system, which led to a flourishing of all manner of conspiracies as to what really happened.

So the country very desperately needs an election which is so transparent in its conduct; so fair in its proceedings; so clear in its final tallies; that, in the end, there can be no doubt who won – and how this victory came about.

Wafula Chebukati, the new in chairman of the IEBC, is to be congratulated for his efforts to reach out to the various political rivals.

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