BOI: Lessons for IEBC from the party primaries
Democracy will always thrive where the will of the people is assured by the unquestionable commitment of the leaders of the day to unfailingly respect it.
One of the reasons why African nations tend to admire Western countries political dogma is this irrevocable virtue that has been embraced by leaders regardless of the resultant convenience or inconvenience.
One fact about democratic political processes is that they may not always accurately reflect what the society deserves but at least, to a large extent, represent what the society itself wants.
In Kenya, the growth of democracy over the years is notable. As such, a lot is anticipated of the political leaders in their zeal to let democracy reign above ideologies, political affiliations and convictions.
Ahead of the August 8 polls, it will remain imperative to mitigate the sinister behaviors and attitudes that have cost us heavily in the past in pursuit of democracy. The recent hotly contested party primaries is one of the avenues the electoral management body IEBC can exploit to predict future electoral conduct and plan better for free, fair and credible election polls.
Evidently, its clear from the party primaries that Kenyans are more informed in their political decisions unlike the ever predictable polls in the past elections. This is confirmed by the tossing out of a number of veteran political figures during the just-concluded primaries. Notable too, unlike in the past where the incumbents used all means to clinch coveted tickets, is the resounding defeats handed to political rejects as was witnessed in Kirinyaga County where the incumbent governor came a distant third.
In retrospect, the IEBC decision to leave it to parties to conduct the own primaries was prudent. It was clear that even the major parties that are expected to spearhead mature democratic process abysmally failed to live to the expectation. In fact, in a number of cases, chaos engulfed the process and most of the nominations ended up in anarchy.
A cancellation of the results and setting up of new dates for the repeat of the nominations was ordered. In this regard, the parties need to work on strengthening their internal democracy before pointing fingers at the IEBC.
Corruption has a direct link to violence as far as this electioneering period is concerned. Arguably, we have to admit to inherent traits of disorder manifest in acts like skipping lines at banking halls and supermarkets, overtaking at traffic jams or the restless while awaiting services.
These manifestations were evident in voters’ running battles with the police during the nominations. Such chaos is fuelled by the exhortations by desperate politicians including the bribery of gullible voters. Corrupt leaders who deploy dishonest means to win elections will often refuse to accept honest results.
IEBC should craftily mitigate and arrest violence during the August 8 polls. We’ll all recall last December, when the whole world stood up and applauded the then incumbent President of Ghana John Dramani Mahama for conceding defeat to President-elect Nana Addo. It is simply the order and weight of democracy that losers and winners must learn to co-exist post-election.
The electoral body needs to be vigilant on politicians inciting violence. It is disheartening, for instance, that one of the parliamentary hopeful’s supporters in Nakuru were arrested with crude weapons. We do not want to tread in that direction. It is a flashback to the 2007/2008 violence that left more than 1,200 dead. Politicians must be encouraged to handle victory or defeat with humility and civility.
IEBC must deliberately ensure that the flaws that undermined free and fair election process during the nominations are addressed. Cases of inadequate voting materials, hounding of the returning officers by the contestants, late opening of polling stations, altered voter register and inadequate security shouldn’t pass the notice of the electoral commission.
Kenyans wish for credible elections free from fear or intimidation. It is the onus of the IEBC to deliver this wish.
Desmond Boi is a Monitoring and Evaluation Specialist. Email: email@example.com
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