Why time is running out to sort out IEBC
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