Third Eye

Why IEBC must perform above board in 2022 polls

Tuesday, July 6th, 2021 00:00 |
IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati. FILE PHOTO

The 2022 General Election is still one year away but the country is in an electioneering mode, with public campaigns going on despite the State-imposed coronavairus restrictions.

Already different political formations are shaping up as the battle to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta enters the home stretch.

With the nation transfixed on the highly anticipated Court of Appeal ruling on the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) case, the electoral race has already defined some key issues that will prove crucial in how Kenyan voters will cast their ballot next year.

In the eye of the storm are two independent institutions, the Judiciary  and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The court’s decision on the BBI matter will set the stage for the reconstituted IEBC to fast-track the process for the August 2022 elections.

While IEBC has recently indicated that it intends to make some changes in its “system”, the task ahead is challenging for IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati and the new commissioners.

Given the electoral body’s performance in the past elections, it needs to regain lost public confidence.

The reforms in the electoral system which were crafted by an inter-parliamentary select committee and ratified by leaders across the political divide, demand great tact and commitment from the commission, which has been exposed.

The commissioners are under constitutional oath to deliver free, fair, transparent and credible elections, hat leads to a political outcome which satisfies all Kenyans and restores their faith in the commission. 

Due to its past record, IEBC is suffering  a serious credibility gap. The forthcoming election it is turning out as one of the most intense political battles in Kenya’s history.

The commissioners and the Secretariat must ensure that elections remain the strongest pillars of democracy and the cornerstones of national unity.

Judgement on the BBI case will shape the direction towards the next election.

The electoral race has identified key issues for debate including the Covid-19 pandemic, good governance, the economy, unemployment, corruption, ethnicity  and the doctrine of separation of power between the three arms of government.

But IEBC continues to be the focus of critical national and international scrutiny within this complicated scenario.

Kenyans’ have not forgotten that perceived electoral system flaws have resulted in disputes, acrimony and violence.

The IEBC must remain above board to ensure such a situation never recurs.

Past elections have pit popular opponents with passionate supporters divided largely along ethnic lines, and the 2022 election is unlikely to be an exception. 

While other extraneous factors compound the quest for electoral justice, the commission is under constitutional obligation to ensure the conduct of the elections does not pose a threat to national unity and security. 

Electoral contests in Kenya, just like in other democracies, is fierce and it means IEBC needs to sustain an electoral process that meets the expectations of all voters and strengthens the democratic ideals of our national foundation.

Kenya belongs to all of the communities and the electoral system should not perpetuate a winner-takes-it-all culture which has pervaded our political infrastructure in the past two elections. 

The Electoral Laws (amendment) Act made far-reaching changes in the conduct of elections in Kenya.

The Act requires a thorough audit of the voters’ register and strict adherence to the elections date – two issues which require focus given the narrow timelines for the August 2022 poll . [email protected]

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