To uphold democracy IEBC must obey new regulations

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati. [Kipsang Joseph, Standard]

The authority to govern a country is based on the will of the people, and this should be expressed through genuine and veritable elections.

It is on the basis of this principle that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has to organise free and fair General Election devoid of derelictions and electoral malpractices.

Though it may appear too late to strengthen the electoral process, IEBC has zero option, but to implement the new electoral regulations highlighted in the 2017 Post-Election Evaluation Report, and ensure free and fair elections, and peaceful transition of power.

The polls agency should not use hold-backs to effect the recommendations in the report as a permit or platform to falsify the electoral process with the aim of concocting election results. IEBC should be guided by the principles and standards as set out in the evaluation report.

Kenyans would not wish to witness incidents such as the post-election violence of 2007/08 or the 2017 electoral flaws, which led to the Supreme Court nullifying the presidential election.

Despite IEBC reassuring that the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) will probe electoral fraud perpetrators, Kenyans remain jittery about evil schemes that could scuttle the election process. Therefore, to safeguard the integrity of the electoral process, the Commission has to execute all recommendations in the evaluation report.

The post-election evaluation sought to make a critical assessment of the conduct of the August 8, 2017, General Election and the October 26, 2017 repeat presidential election. The evaluation was meant to establish what worked and what did not work as expected – the lessons learned were to assist to improve the 2022 electoral process and future elections.

Key recommendations were made, including amendments of electoral laws to be carried out at least two years to the elections. This is in line with accepted best practices in election management. But it is astonishing that four months to elections, IEBC is still imploring the National Assembly to amend electoral laws.

Ideally, IEBC commissioners should have been in office for the entire electoral cycle, if this was not possible, they should have been in office at least two years to the election date. However, due to haggling within the top echelons of government, this was not possible – the commissioners were appointed in September last year.

Funding for electoral programmes, which was to be aligned to the electoral cycle, is a nightmare, with IEBC still demanding more funds.

It was recommended that to ensure all eligible Kenyans are registered as voters, there was a need to integrate the national citizen registration database and the register of voters. However, due to lack of focus, objectivity, consensus and the split witnessed in the Cabinet where opposing sides pulled in different directions, the recommendation was never actualised.

Considering the dynamic nature of the political and electoral landscape, there was a need to review the voter education curriculum to address emerging issues – this never happened, and it ended up affecting voter and civic education, resulting in voter apathy.

The writer is a member of parliamentary committees on Education and Labour