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Violent outbreaks in party polls worrying

By The Standard | December 15th 2016

As expected, the picking of Jubilee Party officials across the country were stormy with violent confrontation reported in many centres.

In Nakuru, Eldoret, at the Coast, Kiambu, Murang’a, Embu, Kirinyaga and other areas where the exercise started on Tuesday, the elections either did not take off or turned chaotic as those involved could not agree on the method to use to pick the officials. In some places, the police had to use tear gas to disperse rioters. For what it offers, politics is getting highly competitive.

Yet it would seem that the Jubilee Party has no clear criteria for party elections. While the disagreement in Nakuru was caused by an official insisting officials were to be appointed through a consensus, at the Coast, the bone of contention was whether to use a delegates system.

Obviously, this lack of clarity is a recipe for chaos as people jostle for influential party positions ahead of the August 2017 General Election.

Orange Democratic Party elections in its Western Kenya strongholds similarly turned chaotic last year. Such trends are worrying as they are pointers to more troubled times ahead unless political parties whip their members into line and instil discipline and a sense of democracy where those who accept the outcome.

There is real fear that if party elections can generate such heat and violence, party nominations for various elective posts could prove worse. To stem the growing threat of violence, parties ought to put in place structures that ensure that the vote is free and fair with a robust dispute resolution mechanism.

Going hand in hand with that is the administration of stiff penalties for those hell-bent to engage in election malpractice like unleashing violence to advance their agenda.

It is only through an orderly process that the parties will be seen to have accorded party followers an opportunity to freely choose their candidates of choice. Anything else disenfranchises the voter.

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