Electoral body move quite reassuring
Elections in Kenya remain an emotive, polarising and a life and death issue. For instance, more than 1,130 Kenyans were killed and 350,000 families displaced following the disputed 2007 presidential election.
Likewise, dozens of Kenyans lost their lives in the lead up to and after the 2017 polls.
The 2007/8 post-election violence exposed our ugly side, the weaknesses of our institutions, and tested the bounds of our nationhood.
The aftermath, however, cleared the way for radical reforms embodied in the 2010 Constitution, which attempted to remedy loopholes in our governance structure that could lead to a repeat of violence.
In 2017, Kenya was thrown into the global limelight after the Supreme Court, in a historic ruling and a first in Africa, nullified the re-election of a sitting president and ordered a new vote after finding that the poll outcome had been tainted by irregularities.
The court declared that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), “failed, neglected, or refused to conduct the presidential election in a manner consistent with the dictates of the Constitution”.
IEBC was indicted for lack of transparency in its processes as well as use of technology. Indeed, the court said an election is not the outcome but a process. It was both a watershed and learning moment.
The nullification put an indelible dent on the electoral agency which Kenyans hope was a poignant lesson for future elections.
A section Kenyans lost confidence in the institution that has been persistently on the defensive over its credibility.
Perhaps that is why we are cautiously encouraged at what we see as attempts by IEBC to prevent a 2017 situation.
The poll agency has announced that it will deploy multiple servers and provide access to the media, presidential candidates and public portals in a bid to demonstrate transparency in the next General Election.
The agency has also indicated that election results at the polling stations will be final and will be transmitted electronically to tallying centres.
To prevent distractive litigation close to the polls, IEBC has advised politicians on what will be their academic qualifications.
One of our major failures as a country is the fact that we constitute the commission too close to elections.
This gives commissioners inadequate time to familiarise themselves with electoral processes as they are forced to hit the ground running.
We are asking the relevant authorities to expedite the ongoing hiring of new commissioners.
The issue of funding should also be addressed to enable the commission to discharge its mandate.