Why time is run­ning out to sort out IEBC

The Star (Kenya) - - Politics -

s a na­tion, we must move with speed and set up a com­pe­tent com­mis­sion that will over­see the next elec­tions, es­pe­cially in a coun­try like ours where elec­tions are mostly hotly con­tested or frac­tious.

We need se­ri­ous dis­cus­sions by those in­volved to build a sys­tem that all play­ers have full con­fi­dence in, and, more im­por­tantly, a process whose out­come will not be con­tested, as dis­puted out­comes un­for­tu­nately have led to vi­o­lence and death.

If we have change, as­sum­ing that we have wide­spread ac­cept­abil­ity of the per­sons to be nom­i­nated as com­mis­sion­ers to the IEBC, then that com­mis­sion must work 24 hours a day and hold gen­uine con­sul­ta­tion and en­gage­ment with all play­ers in the elec­toral process. They must clean up the voter reg­is­ter and come up with ways of in­volv­ing the po­lit­i­cal par­ties in their ad­min­is­tra­tive process of man­ag­ing the elec­tions.

The ac­qui­si­tion of elec­tion ma­te­ri­als and se­lec­tion of elec­tion of­fi­cers should be done in an open and trans­par­ent man­ner.

The in­spec­tion of the reg­is­ter must be open: It is never enough to be told that they are plan­ning to have mass voter regis­tra­tion, where the peo­ple don’t know the state of the reg­is­ter.

Open­ing up will help the peo­ple know how many Kenyans are on the elec­tion roll, how many are go­ing to be added, and from which polling sta­tions, and if they qual­ify.

In the worst-case sce­nario, if the new com­mis­sion­ers take of­fice late, they will be over­run, as they will not be able to deal with all the ad­min­is­tra­tive pro­cesses nec­es­sary to run a free and fair elec­tion.

Fur­ther­more, I see an elec­tion that will end in a stale­mate; that peo­ple will par­tic­i­pate in the vot­ing but its re­sults will be re­jected, lead­ing to a dead­lock and open­ing up ne­go­ti­a­tions for the for­ma­tion of a govern­ment of na­tional unity. There could also be di­a­logue over the im­passe, and, if it fails, there will be po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence.

My best sce­nario is that Par­lia­ment will be able to sort out is­sues of the Com­mis­sion’s com­po­si­tion within two months from to­day and new com­mis­sion­ers will take their man­date and gen­uinely at­tend to all the is­sues re­quired to fa­cil­i­tate a free and fair elec­tion, in­clud­ing the voter regis­tra­tion, elec­toral ad­min­is­tra­tive com­po­nents and the in­volve­ment of po­lit­i­cal par­ties and mon­i­tor­ing of all pro­cesses to guar­an­tee a demo­cratic poll.

Otieno is an ad­vo­cate of the High Court and an elec­tion and gov­er­nance ex­pert

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