Effects of Cosmetic Reforms in the Electoral Body

Election stakeholders follow proceedings during the National Elections Conference held on June 13, 2017 at the Kenyatta International Conference Center.

 In 2017 Kenya has held a general election on 8th August and a repeat fresh presidential poll on 26th August. Following the conclusion of these elections, several debates have arisen from the topic ranging from the independence of the IEBC, electoral laws, the role of the Supreme Court in the electoral process, the legitimacy of the repeat fresh presidential election, just to mention a few.

The road to the repeat presidential election was but a treacherous one. We saw Kenyans call for reforms on the IEBC and the filing of petitions seeking the postponement of the fresh presidential election. In addition, Hon. Raila Odinga ‘pulled out’ of the race and called for a boycott of the said election.  A wave of confusion and tension later ensued in the country.

On the material day of the repeat poll, observer missions and media stations reported extremely low voter turnout. Similar to the ‘bungled’ 8th August general election, many have come out pointing fingers at the IEBC for its lack of independence. Consequently, Hon. Raila Odinga as in the 8th August elections, declined to recognize the president-elect Hon. Uhuru Kenyatta as declared by the IEBC.

What has become of the electoral process in Kenya? The worst election being the 2007 general election which saw the country spiral into a humanitarian crisis with the Post-Election Conflict based on tribal lines. A petition was filed following the declaration of the results of the 2012 general election and now the 2017 general election. Despite the trend, there has been little effort to identify the root of the problem.

Democracy suffers a blow mainly due to the high stakes in elections in Kenya. The Constitution 2010 places power almost exclusively in the winner. This is incentive enough for the political class to utilize illicit mechanisms to win or bargain after the elections. The 2007 elections saw to the forging of a power-sharing agreement to prevent more violence. However, this trend is dangerous in that it could encourage the contestation of the validity and legitimacy of elections.

There is need to develop an informed crisis prevention strategy based on an analysis of the dynamics of local conflict in Kenya.

There is need to move away from making cosmetic reforms in the electoral body. The independence and effectiveness of the IEBC is paramount to safeguarding democracy in Kenya. 

Writer: Jacelyne Mukoma

Medika Medi
Author: Medika Medi
Communications Assistant

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