A credible and peaceful election is what Kenya needs;
Political leaders must strive to ensure that these two, like the sides of a coin, accompany each other. As political leaders demand for credibility from the electoral body, they must by all means endeavor to promote peaceful co-existence especially through their actions and utterances.
The clamor for electoral reforms in Kenya has taken a laborious and painful journey climaxing in the promulgation of the constitution in 2010. Electoral reforms have continued to take place to ensure that the sovereignty of the people of Kenya as enshrined in the constitution is guaranteed.
Thankfully, the will of the people has been granted, and Kenya has an independent electoral body devoid of executive interference and with clear checks and balances. With the institutional capacity to handle the electoral process, and with the constitutional mandate to oversee and announce results, let IEBC be allowed to carry out its work without undue pressure and delays from political parties.
The recent change of guard at the electoral body as demanded by factions of the political divide, should be a minimum reason for Kenyans to entrust their votes with the IEBC. Other reasons to be optimistic that IEBC will deliver credible results or at least that aggrieved parties will get autonomous intervention in the event that the results are not credible, is the existence of an independent Judiciary. The past rulings by the judiciary have clearly been without executive interference and Kenyans must guard the checks and balances put in place by the constitution of Kenya, considering previous abuses.
The recent court ruling on the finality of the results announced at the polling center is a welcome idea that cements the credibility of IEBC and its officers. This means that with results from polling stations, anyone can tally results and have the total figures of the Presidential as well as results of other elective position. This openness will go a long way in eliminating suspicion of tally alteration at the constituency as well as national level as was alleged to be the case in 2007/20008.
With this ruling behind us, the thorny issue that needs to be addresses is the proposal by political parties to set up parallel national tallying centers and specifically the proposal by the National Super Alliance to announce Presidential results. While having a parallel tallying center is both a legal and acceptable plan, and parties have been given the green light by IEBC to set up the centers for their own internal purposes, announcing the final results is legally, a preserve of IEBC. An attempt by any part y to announce results will be illegal but more so, could have far reaching implications on peaceful co-existence in the country.
Considering that Political temperatures in Kenya are already rising, the slightest political provocation could plunge the country in turmoil. In the 2007 General Elections, the root cause of the post election violence is said to have emanated from the perceived difference in the tallying between the results announced by the media and the official tally announced by the defunct ECK. While the grievances in the 2007 election results may have been justifiable, considering the over 100% voter turnout in some constituencies, the unnecessary tension created by different and inconsistent announcement of results could have been the main cause of the violence.
IEBC is allowed by law up to seven days to announce Presidential election results. In the upcoming elections, in the event that a political party announces the final tally before the IEBC officially does so, the possibility of an eruption of violence and anti IEBC protests is very likely.
Political parties and their leadership must re-think the implications of announcing results before the official IEBC results are announced. There is need for caution to be taken irrespective of who wins the election. Kenya must remain peaceful and our leaders have the duty to ensure they do not create unnecessary anxiety. The fragile ethnic and political pieces mended after the 2007/2008 post election violence must stay together.
We must strive for credible elections; but if in the pursuit of credibility we breed disunity and violence, our results will be of no good.
Angela Silima , communication consultant and lecturer at Multimedia University
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