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Be tough with planners and executors of election chaos

By Editorial | March 5th 2021

The chaos that roiled by-elections in several parts of the country yesterday calls for serious national introspection. Notably, several people, including journalists, were injured in the London Ward by-election in Nakuru County.

In Matungu, Kakamega County, a former government official is alleged to have assaulted an official of the electoral agency. In Bungoma, four leaders allied to Deputy President William Ruto were arrested for allegedly causing violence during the Kabuchai Constituency by-election.

There was more drama in Kiamokama Ward by-election in Kisii where a candidate was arrested over allegations of voter bribery.

These incidents are yet to be fully investigated and we don't know where to lay the blame. But the incidents show one thing -- that our democracy is still grossly immature.

During the chaos, politicians supporting different candidates pointed fingers at each other and the police, accusing the other side of plotting to rig the elections. While we are yet to establish the veracity of these claims, the chaos point to the possibility that some characters were indeed determined to subvert the will of the people. This calls for thorough investigations, conducted if possible by independent parties, to ensure that the culprits are punished. Unfortunately, journalists who could be trusted to give an unbiased account of what transpired in Bungoma were turned away by the police while their colleagues were beaten by goons in Nakuru.

Nevertheless, anyone who plotted to disrupt the by-elections, actively engaged in violence, bribery or outright rigging must be held accountable and must face the full force of the law.

Electoral malpractices must be dealt expeditiously because if that doesn't happen, we will have an even greater problem during the next General Election. The by-elections have been termed by some as a dress rehearsal for 2022. It's frightening to fathom what the real 'show' will look like.

The tragedy in this country is that we never learn from history. While everyone has vowed that they wouldn't want a recurrence of the 2007 post-election violence, it seems some people are determined to take us down that road. They must be stopped in their tracks.

If we do not punish those who misbehaved in Nakuru, Kakamega and Bungoma yesterday, we will have opened Pandora's box. We will be off to hell in a handcart, again.

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