The November 7 Kibra by-election may have ended fairly peacefully yesterday but a few home truths must be digested.
To his credit, Jubilee Party’s McDonald Mariga conceded defeat in the early stages of ballot counting, averting reactions that would have otherwise undermined the peace.
But while the mini-poll was openly a battlefront for Deputy President William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga, chaos witnessed in pockets of the constituency was intolerable and should be condemned.
The by-election once again confirmed that in Kenya, electoral laws and public order bylaws can be breached at will.
There were scenes of Kimilili MP Didimus Barasa being openly roughed up as rival groups cheered on. Former Kakamega Senator Boni Khalwale strolled the slums armed with stones. No one has been arrested. With the General Election fast approaching, the electoral commission should put its house in order. The Kibra chaos and the Ganda ward incident in which one person was killed in unclear circumstances, should chance authorities into swift action. The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission and its chairman Wafula Chebukati, who inspire little public confidence, have work cut out for them.
Taming poll malpractices will be a good start towards repairing its dented image. Just days to the shambolic repeat elections in 2017, Mr Chebukati told the world that events at IEBC had spiraled out of control and that he could no longer guarantee free and fair elections.
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Now that he chose to hang on, we urge him to ensure radical reforms. IEBC, political parties and the police have a duty to ensure no one suffers violence or discrimination on account of their political persuasions during campaigns. Every Kenyan has the right and freedom to vote and live anywhere they choose. Proponents of hate speech should be dealt with ruthlessly, as divisive campaigns like what happened in 2007 and 2017 inflicted on us wounds that will take decades to heal. A failure to act on problematic candidates is an indictment on IEBC and parties. The commission should find novel approaches to tame poll malpractices on all fronts.