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Kenyan Elections Inquiry Commission to be Inaugurated


In Kenya, the commission set up to investigate the failure of the December 27 presidential elections is scheduled to be inaugurated Monday. The Kenyan Elections Commission, chaired by Samuel Kivuitu, is blamed for its poor handling of the elections, which many believed plunged Kenya into widespread violence that left more than one thousand people dead and more than 350 thousand displaced.

Human rights activists have accused Kivuitu and his commission of criminal negligence and called for the resignation of the entire Elections Commission. The inquiry commission to be inaugurated Monday is headed by South African Judge Johann Kriegler.

Ndungo Wainaina is with the rights group Kenyans for Peace With Truth and Justice. From Nairobi, he told VOA the Kriegler Commission of inquiry should leave no stone unturned.

“Our take is that that commission needs to look into an in-depth audit of Electoral Commission of Kenya as an institution. Also it needs to look at the legal framework that deals with elections in Kenya so that it does not just provides answers to what transpired on elections but it must also be futuristic in its approach,” he said.

Human rights groups have been demonstrating and calling for the resignation of chairman Kivuitu and his election commissioners. Wainaina said his organization supports the call for the commissioners to step down.

“It is a matter of moral imperative for the entire commission to not only be accountable to Kenyans but also take responsibility for what transpired. We were very clear that before the elections were announced, majority of us persuaded the chairman of the ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya), that’s Samuel Kivuitu not to announce the results until the dispute was properly resolved. They never heeded our advice, which plunged the country into the crisis. Therefore, our position is that these are people who must be held not only accountable, but must be subjected to a criminal prosecution,” Wainaina said.

On January 10, 2008, the Kenyans for Peace With Truth and Justice said it filed a criminal complaint against the Elections Commission. Wainaina said it is not too extreme to bring criminal charges against the elections commission.

“First and foremost, they need to acknowledge that they engaged in negligence, irresponsibility, and they also violated laws in terms of the possible procedures provided should there arise disputes of elections. Primarily on this account alone, they ought not be holding a public office. For them to continue holding a public office, it is not only an immoral act, but as a matter of fact, it is a continuation of the persuasion of the culture of impunity,” he said.

Wainaina said his organization and other human rights groups have been pushing for a constitutional reform to establish an elections commission.

“Our anticipation is that we want a constitutionally established office where the commissioners have a security of tenure which is constitutionally guaranteed. It must be a small but very professional body where the commissioners must be subjected to a vigorous vetting process before anyone has been appointed to become a commissioner. Currently you will note that the commissioners are appointed as a matter of political expediency such that it is at the dictate of the president who determines who becomes a commissioner and determines when their time expires. In that kind of scenario, you can expect all manner of manipulation to happen, and we don’t want that mistake again,” Wainaina said.

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