The October 26th elections is one that will be discussed for many days to come despite the political fatigue-real or perceived. Only last week the government through the Ambassador to Belgium accused the EU observer mission of breaching protocol when releasing their report on the 2017 polls.
EU observer mission on the other hand accuse the government of lack of cooperation and were unwilling to receive them in Nairobi. Whether the EU mission dishonored the MOU they had with the government or released the report earlier than scheduled is immaterial.
The content of their report is really what we should be discussing. In retrospect, could it have been that it was the content of the report that the government wasn’t comfortable with and therefore the application of delaying tactics? If Kenya is really committed to strengthening institutions and realizing the much talked about electoral justice. European Union Observers Missions ought to have been welcomed as friends and not chased like enemies.
Shortly after the annulment of the August 8th polls there were reports of Police brutality that led to scores injured and many deaths including children. To this moment none of the cases have been successfully investigated and closed – to date, the police have denied responsibility. How do we bring justice to the affected families?
There was alleged ethnic profiling that brought with it bitter politics that has birthed secessionist talks by the aggrieved opposition NASA. These are not things we want to sweep under the carpet. How do we heal our land? And talks about giving opposition leaders positions in the cabinet is not a solution.
In their observation of the repeat polls the EU observer mission notes the harassment of the Civil Society by the government through the NGO board. This too must stop and the government must accept that the Civil Society exists for the betterment of Kenya.
It’s instructive to note that one of the functions of the Civil Society is to check, monitor, and restrain the power of political leaders and state officials. They raise concerns when government is overreaching its mandate or violating human rights. It’s the Civil Society that speaks out against the corrupt conduct of public officials and lobbies for good governance reforms like the Red Card Campaign that was geared towards having leaders that meet Chapter Six of the Constitution on Integrity. We therefore need the Civil Society to strengthen our democracy more.
One of the challenges in the 2017 elections both the August 8th and October 26th was the perception that IEBC was infiltrated by State House and some members likely to be compromised by the opposition NASA. It’s solely the reason why NASA withdrew from the second exercise. To that end the Observer mission recommends that the electoral agency should be in place in good time before elections unlike the situation we had where commissioners had less than a year to prepare credible polls.
Another key issue noted is the harassment of the IEBC officers by the NASA supporters. Whether they felt aggrieved or not this was against the spirit of democracy not to mention illegal and amounted to violation of human rights as well. How do we ensure that those working for the electoral agency feel dignified and safe to work across the country? How do we bring such culprits to book now and in the future?
The EU Observer mission has noted so many things that as a country we must take note of even those of us not happy with the report. It can’t be that every electioneering period things go south and we momentarily live in fear of losing lives, jobs and business only to later sweep everything under the carpet and wait for another five years to repeat the same. No, let’s act on these recommendations now.