Push to separate presidential elections from other polls gains momentum

Security officers cordon center stage of the auditorium at the National Tallying centre, Bomas of Kenya before the pronouncement of the President elect on Aug 13, 2022. [Jonah Onyango, Standard]

The push for staggered elections and a longer window for presidential petitions is gaining momentum from more stakeholders.

Election observers on Wednesday rooted for the said proposals as a means of reducing election-related tensions and offering a more conclusive resolution of presidential election disputes.

Election Observers Group (Elog) noted that Kenya’s presidential contests attract heavy dissatisfaction and anxiety among voters, occasionally sparking violence.

Elog National Coordinator Mule Musau said that conflating the elections is always a recipe for jamming of Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) kits.

“It would ensure that the KIEMS kits did not fail or were overwhelmed with respect to identifying votes during the voting process,” said Musau.

Musau spoke on Wednesday during the unveiling of last year’s elections report by Elog at a Nairobi hotel.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the Law Society of Kenya have also proposed having the elections staggered in memoranda to the bipartisan dialogue committee.

They argued that the outcome of the presidential elections would give losers an opportunity to contest other seats thereby promoting political tolerance in the country.

Elog also wants the period for determining a presidential petition be pushed to one month from 14 days as it is currently.

“We need to enhance transparency and accountability to improve and curb irregularities during elections,” stated Musau.

The elections observer noted that 44 per cent of the populace do not have trust in IEBC to conduct free, fair and verifiable elections.

At the same time, the study revealed that around 40 per cent of Kenyans believe that the electoral body is captured by the state, and that there was a lot of ballot staffing during the 2022 general elections.

Further, the report observed that 71 per cent of voters believe party manifestos were key in selling candidates.

According to the report, last year’s elections registered more election observers as compared to 2017 general elections. However, the report noted that only a handful are accountable as 98 per cent did not submit their reports after elections.

The report recommended that politicians be banned from tallying centers as their presence breeds violence and skirmishes.