Despite pleas from a cross-section of Kenyans not to sign the contentious Elections Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016, President Kenyatta went ahead and signed it into law; effectively giving the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) carte blanche to put in place a complementary mechanism for the identification of voters and the transmission of election results.
After the National Assembly, in a one-sided move, passed the contentious Bill, it was left to the Senate to seal the fate of the Bill. The acrimonious scenes and intimidation earlier witnessed in Parliament did not cloud the debate in the senate on the second day. Nevertheless, there were heated moments that compelled Speaker Ekwee Ethuro to stamp his authority.
Though the Jubilee side had whipped its side to approve the motion, the arguments they advanced were convincing enough. Equally convincing were the arguments advanced by the Opposition, which leaves Kenyans in despair and anguish considering a middle ground could have been adopted were it not for the intransigence both sides exhibited.
Regardless, there are concerns we cannot run away from in light of the concerns raised. IEBC itself has been so secretive in its dealings where the voters register is concerned it only worsens an already precarious situation. Even as the electoral body embarks on a nationwide registration exercise that begins next week targeting at least 6,000,000 million more voters, the agency has revealed that 8,000 biometric voter registration kits (BVR’s) are faulty.
This plays into the Opposition's fear the registration exercise could be skewed to give certain areas an advantage in terms of registered voters. Today the Opposition meets to chart the way forward in the face of recent developments.There is need for sobriety and restraint to avoid further polarising a country already divided along party and ethnic lines. The interests of the country must take precedence over political party interests.