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IEBC must address fears of rigging in poll

By The Standard | March 15th 2016

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) finds itself in familiar territory, yet again. Kanu, the former ruling party, is accusing it of sleeping on the job in the hotly contested March 7 Kericho senatorial by-election. Consequently, Kanu has challenged the results announced by IEBC giving victory to the Jubilee Alliance Party's Aaron Cheruiyot against Kanu's Paul Sang.

By raising questions about the outcome of the poll, Kanu has raised fundamental issues that must be addressed ahead of the August 2017, General Election. Is the IEBC ready enough to handle next year's elections? The Opposition has consistently expressed fears that IEBC cannot be relied upon to conduct free and fair elections in 2017. Kericho offered IEBC a chance to prove them wrong. This fear arises from events surrounding the 2013 General Election, which were contested by the Opposition, but upheld by the Supreme Court.

What is frightening are claims that the use of technology in voter registration and vote-tallying is open to manipulation. The burden of proof rests with the IEBC, who must demonstrate that its electronic system is not susceptible to manipulation. To do that, it must provide credible information that can convincingly dismantle Kanu’s argument of a rigged outcome in Kericho. That will allay fears that that the IEBC might give an undue advantage to one party in 2017. After the events of the 2007, the last thing Kenyans want is something akin to a stitch-up.

The warning by South African Judge Johann Kriegler who chaired the Independent Review Commission that investigated the 2007 presidential election that unless our electoral system is reformed, the 2008 post-election violence might look like a picnic, still rings ominously loud.

IEBC has another chance to assuage those fears. It must deliberately roll out a confidence-building campaign to convince Kenyans that it can deliver a credible election in 2017.

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