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Address institutional paralysis before 2017 polls

UREPORT
By Dominic Pkalya | February 10th 2016

If the recent events regarding the credibility and independence of institutions such as the Judiciary and the police are anything to go by, then Kenya is headed for the woods in as far as the 2017 General Election is concerned.

It is important to note that the country had a successful and peaceful election in 2013 simply because the institutions that managed the whole electoral process were largely perceived as independent and credible.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had just delivered a successful referendum in 2010. The Judiciary, with Willy Mutunga at the helm, had regained its independence and credibility.

On the other hand, the newly rebranded National Police Service was teeming with Inspector General (IG) having been independently recruited.

The International Criminal Court (ICC) processes had proved to be a strong deterrent mechanism. Learning from the 2007/08 post-election violence, civil society and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) had inundated Kenyans with tonnes of peace messages.

However, things changed immediately after the 2013 elections, sending signals that the 2017 elections may not be as rosy and peaceful as we may wish if certain things are not fixed immediately.

One, the way the Supreme Court handled the 2013 presidential election petition alienated almost half of the country. In addition, the move by Jubilee Government to amend Section 30 of the Judicial Service Act to allow the president a strong hand in choosing the next Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice is another veiled affront on the independence of Judiciary.

The bribery claims against Supreme Court Judge Philip Tunoi, is perhaps the final irreparable damage and indictment of the Judiciary. The fact that CJ Mutunga has termed Kenya a bandit economy sums it up.

Two, the failure of the electronic voter identification and tallying system, the multiple voter registers and the Chickengate scandal has completely tarnished the image of IEBC.

Three, the Security Laws Amendment Act 2014 amended section 12 of the National Police Service Act by mandating the president to nominate a person for appointment as an Inspector-General and submit the name of the nominee to the National Assembly. With Jubilee tyranny in National Assembly, the nomination is as good as appointment and with this new development, the position of IG lost its independence. It is now an appendage of the Executive, which has direct interest in 2017 elections.

Four, the way the ICC handled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s case as well as the current ongoing case facing Deputy President William Ruto and radio journalist Joshua arap Sang has sent a strong message that perhaps what you need is power and everything else, including ICC, can be sorted. On the other hand, if the recent AU resolution is anything to go by, come 2017, Kenya, and other African countries, may have walked out of the Rome Statute that established ICC.

Finally, the political elites from the two leading coalitions have been spewing hate speech on a scale reminiscence of events leading to, during and after 2007 election.

From the foregoing, it will not be wild to conclude that we are approaching the 2017 elections from a weak point, at least institutionally. This is why everything must be put in place to address these institutional inadequacies and rein in hate speech.

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