Friday, September 19, 2008



September 19,2008
By Standard Team
The Standard
Nairobi, Kenya

Chief Mediator Kofi Annan has asked the Government to implement the Kriegler Commission recommendations immediately.

Speaking after meeting Prime Minister Raila Odinga at his Treasury office in Nairobi on Thursday, Dr Annan called for immediate overhaul of the Electoral Commission of Kenya, and amendment to the electoral laws as recommended in the report.

Annan spoke as 27 diplomats announced they would support the implementation of the report by the Independent Review Commission.

"We must move forward with implementation of the recommendations to reform the Electoral

Commission and electoral laws," Annan said.

He said Kenyans should see progress of the peace pact signed on February 28 between President Kibaki and Raila.

And in reference to Zimbabwe, where a power-sharing agreement between President Robert Mugabe and MDC leader Morgan Tsvangirai was sealed on Monday, Raila said: "We have the medicine for transition and crises. (Robert) Mugabe refused to take it at first, but he finally swallowed it."

But the Kriegler report did not go down well with everybody. Law Society of Kenya vice-chairman James Mwamu said the report did not disclose any new information.

He said the millions of shillings spent on the commission, should have been used to resettle the displaced.

"It is full of contradictions when it says it cannot tell who won the elections due to immense irregularities and in the same breath says there was no rigging at KICC. Who is Kriegler trying to fool?" posed Mwamu.

He added: "Kriegler was on a fact-finding mission, but what we see in the report is an attempt to get a middle ground. This is a complete failure and a disappointment. We all knew the ECK had inherent weaknesses and therefore Kreigler should have told us what we did not know — like what exactly happened at KICC."

And the 27 heads of mission in Kenya, including the UK, European Union, and the USA, welcomed the Kriegler commission’s report.

"Kenyans deserve an electoral system they can have full confidence in. We look forward to an implementation plan in the Sessional Paper that the Government is to present in Parliament," they said, in a statement.

The envoys also welcomed President Kibaki and Raila’s support for the commission and their call for full implementation of the recommendations.

"As representatives of the international community we stand ready to lend our support," they affirmed.

Meanwhile, senior counsel and former Kabete MP Paul Muite said the Kriegler report was not different from what a parliamentary watchdog had come up with.

"Kriegler has not said anything new. His report is similar to what the Parliamentary Committee on Administration of Justice and Legal Affairs demanded way before the General Election," Muite said.

He added: "If we could amend the Constitution to allow Kibaki and Raila to form a coalition government, why can’t we do the same to pave way for reforms of Judiciary and ECK?"

Muite said the ECK remains a time bomb and wondered what would happen in case of another presidential election before the ECK is reformed. "It would be another recipe for bloodbath," Muite said.

A disappointment

And speaking on behalf of the PNU, Forestry and Wildlife Minister Noah Wekesa and party secretary George Nyamweya said they would issue a statement today on the Kriegler findings and proposals.

"We are still studying the report, but we will make our position on it known tomorrow (today)," said Nyamweya

But former Institute of Education in Democracy executive director Koki Muli said the report is disappointing.

"Much of what I am reading is cut- -and-paste of submissions other civil society groups gave to Kriegler," she said.

She said Kriegler’s claim evidence of rigging at KICC tallying centre cannot be sustained were unfounded.

Koki quipped: "So where was the problem if it was not at KICC? Where exactly did this manipulation take place?

But Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka urged the public to accept the outcome of the probe.

Kalonzo, who spoke in Mombasa on Thursday, said the report should be the first step towards national healing.

"We should accept the painful reality of where we went wrong and use it as part of the healing process," Kalonzo said.

Anglican Bishop, Julius Kalu, however, commended the Kriegler team for a job well done and for submitting their report on time.

But religious and political leaders who spoke to The Standard in Mombasa dismissed the Kriegler report as "a sham".

The Council of Imams and Preachers of Kenya (CIPK) and Muslims for Human Rights also described the Kriegler report as a sham and a waste of public funds.

The organising secretary of CIPK, Sheikh Mohamed Khalifa, said failing to tell Kenyans who won the election was "a serious omission".

Some MPs discredited the report, saying it failed to capture key issues.

LSK demanded that President Kibaki sets up a tribunal to investigate ECK commissioners.

MPs Olago Aluoch (Kisumu Town West), Education Assistant Minister Ayiecho Olweny (Muhoroni) and Jakoyo Midiwo (Gem), said the report’s account of what happened at the KICC during the vote tallying had been doctored.

"I couldn’t believe my ears when I heard the chairman of the commission say that claims of rigging during the tallying exercise at the KICC could not be sustained," said Midiwo, the ODM Chief Whip.

The legislators also poured cold water on suggestions by the commission that ECK be given a new name describing it as cosmetic.

"To have a body that is transparent and accountable to the people is to have commissioners who represent the different political opinions," said Olago.

Ayiecho, however, said the report should make Kenyans forget the past and focus on the future.

Central Organisation of Trade Unions Secretary-General Francis Atwoli dismissed the report as a "dangerous precedent and an affront on democracy".

"Kreigler should have said who won the election or who was leading when the confusion and chaos erupted," said Atwoli.