The incompetence of IEBC is not about chicken gate alone; the body itself admitted that there were numerous electoral malpractices in the 2013 general elections. The Supreme Court, which is the highest court of the land despite its ruling on the presidential petition, also noted that the 2013 polls had problems.
Nothing much has been done to reform the body, and the country is now 13 months to the next general elections. The opposition has held several street protests demanding the disbandment of the current IEBC; the calls have seen the formation of Joint select committee look into concerns raised about the credibility of the electoral body.
Dilly dallying can be seen from quotas that are anti-IEBC reforms. Perception has now been created by the Chepkonga led Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) that IEBC carried the day after its chairperson Issack Hassan was cleared of any wrongdoing in the procurement of BVR kits that failed immensely during the 2013 polls. Any seriously thinking Kenyan knows that the people who benefited from the 2013 malpractices cannot support the disbandment or the current IEBC or removal of its chairperson.
Clearing Hassan is a ploy to insulate him from facing prosecution. The public cannot be fooled that only the former IEBC chief executive James Oswago is responsible for the infamous chicken gate scandal alongside other three ‘small’ accomplices the committee allowed to be prosecuted. It’s a pity that EACC has also turned to be a clearinghouse for highly connected. Oswago said that he was not allowed by EACC to complete the statement he had begun making a month ago. “Any accused person must be given time to defend himself. The EACC may be trying to divert public attention from a particular matter”, said Oswago.
The electoral environment has not changed since 2013, and it’s absurd for Hassan to celebrate and sit pretty preparing for next polls. Serious reforms are needed to secure proper elections in 2017, and the reforms must go beyond the commission. Voter registration must be seriously conducted without favouring any region and issues on technology to be used must be resolved.
Leaders of IEBC must inspire the nation, and the Hassan led commission lacks public confidence, and something must be done within the timeline. Relevant teams must put the country first and work expeditiously hard to reform the IEBC and avoid pushing back the election date which can be very expensive for the country. Change of election date extends the term of the president which can only be affected through a referendum.
It’s sad to note that time wastage through unnecessary debates between JLAC and Joint Select Committees may force the nation to push back election date. AG Githu Muigai, for instance, is asking for the 2017 poll date postponed allowing proper reconstitution of the ongoing reforms including putting in place new IEBC commissioners. The constitution is clear on the election date, August 8th, 2017.
Attempts to postpone elections will be seen as a plot by the president to extend his term which may plunge the country into more arguments. There is enough time to reform IEBC and have the next elections held as stipulated in the constitution.
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