By now I think most Kenyans are familiar with the statistics from the 2007/2008 post election violence, 1,500 people killed and more than 350,000 people internally displaced. Given the fallout from our last election the question for the next election is are we ready for the 2013 election and are the mechanisms to prevent a repeat or escalation of what happened in 2007/2008 in place.
KPTJ (Kenyans for Peace Truth and Justice) a coalition of Kenyan citizens and organisations has produced a report the readiness of the country to undergo a peaceful, free and fair election. The report titled “Ready or Not: An Assessment of Kenya’s Preparedness for the Next General Election,” focuses on three main areas of election preparedness: a conducive environment for an electoral process, the ability to manage elections competently and inspire public trust in the electoral process, and the ability to settle election disputes.
And to be honest if the next elections are to be credible we need to have all three, the next election will be our most challenging yet. Whereas in previous elections we have voted for just our member of parliament, a councillor and the president, this time we will be voting for 6 seats in one go: the president, a member of parliament, a woman representative for each of the 7 counties, senators, county governor for each of the 47 counties, and a member of the county assembly…it sounds mind boggling.
This is not to say that the government has not done anything to ensure that the 2013 election is not a repeat of the 2007 election. There were several of commissions of the inquiry into the failure of the electoral process in 2007 – the Waki Commission (which dealt with the post election violence), and the Kreigler Commission (which looked specifically at the electoral process). Both Commissions made recommendations that have been taken up to different extents by the government. The most important being a reform of the body that manages the electoral process – we’ve seen the move from the defunct Election Commission of Kenya (ECK) to the Interim Independent Election Commission (IIEC) to the body we have now the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
The mandate of the IEBC includes the continuous registration of voters and revision of the voter’s roll, the delimitation of constituencies and wards, the regulation of political parties process, the settlement of electoral disputes, the registration of candidates for elections, voter education, the facilitation of the observation, monitoring and evaluation of elections, the regulation of money spent by a candidate or party in respect of any election, the development of a code of conduct for candidates and parties, the monitoring of compliance with legislation on nomination of candidates by parties. The IEBC also has wider powers to vet and sanction elections candidates than previous election bodies.
The election laws have also undergone reform, by way of the constitution, the Election Act, and the Political Parties Act. However there have been significant claw-backs, and flip-flopping by parliament on implementation on the electoral laws.
So given the current state of affairs do you think the IEBC and the government as a whole has done enough to (i) establish a conducive context for a successful electoral process; (ii) manage the next General Election reliably, competently and in a manner that inspires public trust in the process; and (iii) proactively manage pre-election violence triggers and settle election disputes effectively?