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September 19, 2017

How can it be business as usual after bungled polls? ?August 8 election

Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta listens to Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announcing his winning of the presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 11, 2017. /REUTERS
Incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta listens to Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati announcing his winning of the presidential election at the IEBC National Tallying centre at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, Kenya August 11, 2017. /REUTERS

Announcing October 17 as the date for the fresh presidential polls after the Supreme Court ruling last Friday, the IEBC shows clearly that it has no capacity to manage the election, or is simply playing games with the voters.

In its ruling, the Supreme Court clearly explained why they annulled the presidential result. In fact, the Supreme Court judges just fell short of declaring the whole exercise futile because it was marred by massive irregularities and constitutional malpractices, which, by any standard, could not have passed for a free and fair election.

The IEBC, as the institution mandated to coordinate and manage elections, should stop taking Kenyans for granted. It cannot be business as usual for them, when several Kenyans, including children and infants, lost their lives because of a shoddy and criminal exercise under their supervision.

It appears that the commissioners and the entire Secretariat are neither accountable for their deeds nor responsible in their actions. They enjoy impunity of the highest order under the protection of the Jubilee government.

All along, questions have been asked about the relationship between Jubilee and the electoral commission because it appears they are just but one. No wonder the likes of Interior CS Fred Matiang’i, Jubilee Majority leader in the National Assembly Aden Duale and his Senate counterpart Kipchumba Murkomen behave as if they are the IEBC and the commission is they.

Matiang’i, like any other Cabinet Secretary, is an employee of the government, and is working for the whole nation and not for Jubilee. According to the Constitution, civil servants should not engage in active politics. They should be non-partisan.

From very reliable sources, CS Matiang’i, among other Cabinet Secretaries, summoned chief executive officers and top editors of leading media houses to the ninth floor of the Teleposta Building on August 9 to urge them to make an announcement, declaring Uhuru Kenyatta President-elect, even before the results were officially announced by the IEBC.

It is ridiculous and shameful that after struggling to usher in the 2010 Constitution, the Jubilee government is still behaving as if Kenya is still under colonial rule or a one-party state. Thanks to Nation Editor-in-Chief, who cautioned and warned him of behaving as if he is Jubilee and yet he is a government official. I strongly support NASA and its leadership’s position that fresh elections should not be held under the current circumstances, unless changes are made in the IEBC and bad elements within it are rooted out. For free, fair and democratic elections to be realised, the commission must be separated from Jubilee.

The declaration of Uhuru as president-elect after the now-nullified sham election by IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati was an embarrassment to the nation and to the whole world in the sense that he did not know what he was doing in declaring those results. He appeared not to even know that he was supposed to sign off the results before declaring them, yet he is a lawyer.

The commissioners looked confused, disorganised, and were not even sure of the figures they were announcing for the purported winner.

Instead of rushing and giving in to pressure from Jubilee to announce the election date on October 17, the IEBC should have discussed with all stakeholders and through consensus agreed on a date and come up with a proper mechanism to conduct and manage the election freely, fairly and democratically as per the Constitution and as ordered by the Supreme Court.

The IEBC and Jubilee government should be sensible enough to know that this country is bigger than any of them, and that it comprises more than 40 million people from different ethnic communities.

Every community has a right to lead this great nation but only in a free, fair and democratic environment that is acceptable to all. Whatever the circumstances, Kenyans, irrespective of their ethnic backgrounds and political affiliations, should not allow themselves to be taken for granted by political tribal chiefs.

Instead of condemning and antagonising the Chief Justice, Uhuru should thank him and his team for finding him culpable as the third respondent.

In advanced democracies where accountability and the rule of law prevail and forms the basis of governance, the likes of Chebukati, President Uhuru and Deputy President William Ruto should have resigned and been charged.

Instead of keeping quiet and assumingit is business as usual, Kenyans should demand explanations from the government on why innocent people, including children, were killed following the protests that erupted after the declaration of the initial results. It cannot be business as usual for elections to be bungled, people to be killed by trigger-happy police officers and professionals to be murdered and no action is taken to hold people to account.

By Denise A. O. Kodhe,

Chairman- Kenya National Chapter- African Union- ECOSOCC,

Executive Director- Institute for Democracy & Leadership in Africa- IDEA

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