Friday, October 10, 2008



Friday, October 10, 2008
Kenya Times
Nairobi, Kenya

Story by: By Joseph Kamotho

SECURITY of tenure and constitutional hurdles notwithstanding, the over 1,000 Kenyans killed in the post election skirmishes would overwhelmingly vote in their graves for the overhaul of the blood stained Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK). Their surviving families amongst whom are nearly 400,000 displaced in the election aftermath would likewise pass the same judgment in any forum.

Without tallies from 38 constituencies, Commission Chairman, Samuel Kivuitu declared President Mwai Kibaki the winner of the 10th general elections and issued a certificate to that effect. Violent protests greeted the premature announcement. A few days later, the chairman contradicted himself by telling the media that he did not know the winner of the presidential contest, a statement repeated by a retired South African judge, Johan Kriegler probing the bungling of the 2007 chaotic general elections.

The rest of the world sympathized with the victims whose blood washed the hotly contested general elections between Raila Odinga’s Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and President Kibakis Party of National Unity (PNU). Kenyans will not know the winner of the presidential elections and they are questioning who has the legitimacy to run the country in the absence of a clear mandate from the electorate. Poll irregularities were too grave to be forgotten and forgiven.

The world leaders were amongst those who mourned the dead and intervened. The outgoing US President George W. Bush on a tour of Africa at the time of the post election violence led others in condemning the electoral frauds in the country that was once a peace model.

The UN and the African Union (AU) were never left behind in the diplomatic shuttles to rescue the tribally divided country from imminent fragmentation. The services of the former UN secretary general Kofi Annan and African Eminent Persons were enlisted to broker a durable solution in the stand off.

After lengthy deliberations the principals agreed that in the interest of peace, elections could not be repeated in the prevailing circumstances and the two settled for a power sharing formula. Raila became the Prime minister with equal number of cabinet seats in the Grand Coalition government headed by Kibaki.

The former Nigerian Foreign Minister, Oluyemi Adeniji and Kriegler remained behind to complete in what had come to be known as the healing process that included a probe on the flawed elections and truth and reconciliation. Kenya’s electoral fraud set a precedent for despots to manipulate future voting and ask winners to settle for something less in a coalition under their patronage. Already, Zimbabwe followed the country in its just concluded general elections won by the opposition. The victor, Morgan Tsvangirai has since settled for the post of a prime minister in a coalition similar to that formed in Kenya early this year.

Testimonies before courts corroborate the glaring manipulations and doctoring of the tallies that extended to constituencies of the rich. Over a million people dead voted posthumously, the number of registered were less than the votes cast, losers were declared winners and one Returning Officer claimed that Satan tallied the results.

Kriegler’s far reaching recommendations include the overhaul of the ECK. Mr Kivuitu insists that he is not quitting as demanded by political leaders and the international community since his appointment carries the security of tenure. Kenyans know that he enjoys a security of tenure but that is not a license to deny them their constitutional rights.

For reasons, some of which are ethnic, legal and political, Kenyans of diverse political affiliations are sharply divided over the campaigns to scrap the commission. Already, the prime minister, as a living victim of electoral fraud, is leading the campaign to sack Kivuitu and his team but some of his cabinet colleagues are apprehensive.

Contrary to the 1997 Inter Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) agreement, the appointments of the Commissioners were to be made by parliamentary political parties according to their numerical strength. President Kibaki ignored the pact of which he was a signatory and arbitrarily named the present commissioners to preside over his re-election. By word of mouth, Kibaki undertook to table the Kriegler Report before the cabinet for discussion and eventual debate in parliament.

None of this has been done. Voter manipulation is an extension of dictatorial tendencies in registered organisations whose bosses have to seek mandate from members in electoral contests. In parliament, for instance, MPs are hostages of party barons who influence their nominations. The same can be said of church polls.

The mandate of the new organization should one be formed, the powers should include conducting and supervision of sports, women organisations, trade unions, cooperative movements, political party elections and nominations that have not known fairness. The author is a former Member of Parliament for Mathioya