Saturday, September 20, 2008



September 20, 2008
By David Ohito
The Standard
Nairobi, Kenya

"Fix the mess or face the same mess in 2012," was the parting shot of Justice Johann Kriegler as he returned the verdict presidential election last year was a sham.

Speaking alongside former chief mediator Kofi Annan, the two dignitaries asked Kenyans to turn the eye to 2012 and strive to avoid a repeat of last year, and its bloody aftermath.

The gears shifted to 2012 race with massive calls to have minimum constitutional reforms in the Electoral Commission of Kenya, electoral laws, and the Judiciary ahead of comprehensive constitutional reforms.

Kriegler, who chaired the Independent Review Commission (Irec), cautioned Kenyans to fix the weaknesses of the electoral laws and administration or be ready for another bloodbath of a Christmas party in 2012, when the next General Election is due.

Electoral processes

Annan said Kriegler’s recommendations, "must not be brushed aside or be allowed to gather dust on shelves. We cannot refuse to take steps."

He added: "For Irec’s work to have any real meaning and impact, it is imperative that the recommendation be properly followed up."

Kriegler challenged Kenyans to stop lamenting and instead work towards carrying out crucial reforms that would cushion them against the ills in the electoral processes. "Elections in Kenya are notoriously bad. They have been bad over the years and they must be fixed." The retired judge added: "Serious hard work must be done urgently in electoral reforms … or else 2012 will be here and before you know it you would be caught unawares again."

Annan saluted Kenya as, "a nation at peace ready to open its doors to business."

"Devise, implement, and maintain appropriate executive, legislative and political measures to enable the reconstituted or new electoral management body to initiate, popularise and sustain national commitment to electoral integrity and to protect voting rights" Kriegler advised.

Kriegler argued: "There are a number of constitutional and legal framework relating to elections, contains a number of weaknesses and inconsistencies that weaken its effectiveness. This legislation needs urgent and radical revision and consolidation."

"The whole electoral process needs revision. The 2007 elections lacked independence, capacity and functionality because of weaknesses in its organisational structure, composition and management systems," Kriegler said.

Kriegler conceded, "The legitimacy of ECK and public confidence in the professionalism credibility of its commissioners and staff have been irreversibly impaired."

Reformed ECK

"ECK lacks functional efficiency and incapable of properly discharging its mandate," he added. "Serious defects in the voter registration impaired the integrity of the elections even before the polling started," he added.

The register, he said, had 1.2 million names of dead voters and excluded one third of illegible voters with a bias against women and the youth.

Kriegler wants a radically reformed ECK or the creation an independent body with a new name, image, and ethos committed to administrative excellence in the service of electoral integrity.

act on findings

He rooted for lean policy-making body and supervisory board with between six to nine commissioners, selected in a transparent and inclusive process, interacting with a properly structured professional secretariat.

Former Kabete MP Paul Muite said Kenyans must embark on immediate implementation of the recommendations through minimum reforms before comprehensive constitutional reforms are made.

"We must save the country. What happens if President Kibaki resigns today or by bad luck is indisposed?