INVESTING IN INSTITUTIONS

BBI can save Kenya from US election crisis

Changes to the Constitution as proposed by the BBI will make our nation stronger and ensure we safeguard our democracy going forward.

In Summary

• Here in Kenya, most Kenyans seem unhappy with the BBI and the recommended changes despite the fact that most have not read.

• The country is sick and needs medicine and instead of interrogating the ailment, they want to blindly fight the doctor and medicine.

BBI can save Kenya from US election crisis
BBI can save Kenya from US election crisis
Image: OZONE

The 16th US President Abraham Lincoln once said, “This country, with its institutions, belongs to the people who inhabit it. Whenever they shall grow weary of the existing government, they can exercise their constitutional right of amending it, or exercise their revolutionary right to overthrow it.”

The 2020 American election has been one of the closest and most controversial seen in decades. It was not only tense for Americans but also for the entire world that watched in horror as a sitting President made some of the most outrageous claims.

An unprecedented large number of voters came out to vote and Joe Biden won decisively at the end.

However, one thing for sure is that democracy in America will be safeguarded because the country has a strong constitution and empowered institutions that will uphold law and order. The checks and balances brought though state houses and governors all the way to the Congress are critical in this process.

Here in Kenya, most Kenyans seem unhappy with the BBI and the recommended changes despite the fact that most have not read. The country is sick and needs medicine and instead of interrogating the ailment, they want to blindly fight the doctor and medicine.

The President is not supporting the BBI for his own benefit, as he will not be on the ballot. Changes to the Constitution as proposed by the BBI will make our nation stronger and ensure we safeguard our democracy going forward.

When you look at the US elections, you see key institutions that are helping the country navigate this chaotic process. For instance, the President was making threats but voting continued and counting went on as scheduled.

This is one of the reasons that we must support the reforms proposed by the BBI on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. The proposed reforms not only ensure that the IEBC is independent but also safeguards democracy by ensuring the commission does it job regardless of who is in office.

As the counting in the US continued, the Republicans rushed to court severally and the Judiciary ensured that whatever petitions were brought forth were dealt with immediately. This helps in ensuring that there are no undue delays in completing the process while safeguarding democracy.

Some of the proposed changes to the Constitution by BBI seek to ensure that we have an even more independent and strong Judiciary. A Judiciary that ensures justice is served without any favour.

During the elections in the US, there were pockets of disturbances here and there but one has to admire how they were handled. The police did not beat up anyone, there was no teargas and those protesting did not beat up others or destroy property.

Now compare this with our recent elections where we had people die in the hands of the police in the chaos. We also had property worth millions destroyed in the chaos with protests about the elections full of teargas.

For us to enjoy such kind of exercises, we must continue to professionalise the police service, which is something that is adequately captured in the BBI report. The proposal to Constitutionalise IPOA and also replace the National Police Service with the National Police Council will go a long way to ensure our police is better.

When the final declaration is made, there will be no doubt in the minds of Americans and the entire world that due process was followed and that democracy carried the day.

We obviously cannot copy everything that the Americans are doing but we can definitely borrow a number of things. Key among these things is ensuring that we continue to build strong democratic and civic institutions that protect the rights of each and every Kenyan.

Through the BBI process, we can ensure that we strengthen Parliament by ensuring that the opposition is institutionalised as proposed and also ensure the Judiciary is bolstered.

The conversation around the BBI report should not be about who wins or loses but ensuring that we create strong institution and have a Constitution that protects these institutions from undue influence.

@MachelWaikenda