Clear all hurdles to peace during and after polls

EDITORIAL |

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission(IEBC) Chairperson Wafula Chebukati. [David Njaaga, Standard]

Kenya cannot afford a bungled General Election in August next year. This being a transitional election, nothing should be left to chance with hardly eight months to D-Day. Political and economic stability depends heavily on the conduct of the high stakes General Election.

Coming after nearly two years of a global health pandemic that has devastated the economy, killing hundreds of businesses and nearly two million jobs, the August 9 elections should be handled carefully.

Today, the economy is struggling to recover and the Kenyans whose livelihoods and incomes were destroyed are trying to pick themselves up again. The elections should not add to their miseries.

A peaceful transition of political power should give hope to millions of Kenyans yearning for change. For that to happen, all stakeholders must put their act together and commit to a peaceful exercise during and after the vote. 

The politicians must conduct peaceful campaigns and be ready to accept the outcome without much of a fuss. The Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), as the umpire, must assure Kenyans of a transparent and fair electoral contest.

The Judiciary must be on hand as a fair arbiter in case of disputes arising from the elections. The security agencies must inspire confidence and assure Kenyans of safety during and after the elections.

Local and foreign potential investors should be assured of a conducive environment to conduct business, despite the change of guard at State House, Parliament and the 47 county assemblies.

When businesses thrive, the economy grows and the quality of life is enhanced for everyone. Kenyans should not be afraid of setting up ventures in any part of the country due to an election.

However, it is disheartening to hear an IEBC commissioner admitting that some youth had confessed that the exercise was not worth their time, hence the apparent voter apathy during the recent listing exercise. They said they did not expect any change in their lives.

This explains the need for civic education and need for all stakeholders to engage Kenyans on the importance of participating in the elections. 

Still, reports of tender wars, divisions in the commission, standoff in Parliament over campaign financing and dispute over the composition of the election preparedness team do not inspire hope, with just eight months to the elections.

The issues that were flagged out in the 2017 presidential elections, for instance, must be addressed before August next year.

This includes the appointment of a substantive CEO and the technology to be used in transmission of results across all the polling stations. 

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