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Kenyans Call for Immediate Disbandment of Electoral Commission


Kenyans are reportedly expressing shock after an official of the country's Electoral Commission admitted to the Kriegler Commission of inquiry that he purposely entered higher presidential votes for incumbent president Mwai Kibaki in the disputed December 27, 2007 elections. They are calling for the immediate disbandment of the electoral commission and a new one constituted to oversee free, fair and credible elections in the future.

Some Kenyans also contend that the electoral commission failed to carry out its mandate in the last disputed elections, which plunged the country into a political crisis and resulted in the loss of lives and property. Emmanuel Jummah is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi, he tells reporter Peter Clottey some Kenyans want errant electoral officials during the last disputed elections prosecuted.

"The reaction has been that of shock. In our newsroom what happened was that after we broadcast the story, the main bone of contention the biggest one was the fact that they (electoral commission officials) admitted openly that they announced the wrong man who lost as having been the one who won a parliamentary seat in Central Kenya. We asked the public whether the guy who won by way of default should now resign, and it was a resounding yes. More than 80% said yes the guy should resign and they were raising questions as to what could have then just have happened to the entire electoral process?" Jummah noted.

He said some Kenyans are expressing skepticism about the whole electoral process.

"They now seem to believe that a lot may have happened that may have been just an example of some of the serious issues that affected that election, and you know that it was a very controversial exercise. And many are now calling for the disbandment of the ECK (Electoral Commission of Kenya) as soon as possible. They want this electoral body just done away with so that they can start on a clean slate," he said.

Jummah said Kenyans are reportedly expressing their willingness to be vigilant in future elections.

"Extremely vigilant, and I think now people have learned lessons and we are hoping that from the findings of the Kriegler Commission we are going to be able to put in place systems that would be able to deal with such malpractices in the future. Systems that would ensure that people would not use their own discretion to change things around on their own whim, systems that would also ensure that as the results come in you are able to key in somewhere and you will be able to press a button and get the full tally than having to wait and depending on individuals who have to travel from point A to point B to bring the results manually on pieces of paper, something that somebody can easily change when they want," Jummah pointed out.

He said Kenyans should be comforted that the commission of inquiry will come up with recommendations that would address the deficiencies in the electoral system.

"The main thing that Kenyans are happy about is the fact that this Kriegler Commission is going to sit and bring its report, a report that we hope we are going to use to strengthen the system and change the laws that need to be changed perhaps change sections of the constitution. Just to strengthen the ECK and ensure that next time we are having an election then it is going to be free of manipulation," he said.

Jummah said Kenyans have learned a lot from the December 27 disputed elections.

"Lots of lessons have been learnt actually. You remember that just before Kenyans went for the elections, there were lots of issues raised. Many were arguing that this was a body that was appointed largely by the incumbent president, and the guys who are going to be running against him had never had a hand in its appointment. And many had argued that it needed to be balanced in one way or the other," Jummah pointed out.

He said there was a need to fully transform the way the electoral commission is constituted.

"From where I sit I don't think that is a solution where you have political parties being the one to participate in appointing electoral commissioners because then what it means is that if you are appointed by one particular party then you owe your allegiance to them. So, there is always a possibility that when you get an opportunity you want to do something that you will be able to benefit the party that appointed you to that body in the first place," he said.

The Justice Kriegler Commission is mandated to look into what transpired during the disputed December 2007 elections, which led to the loss of lives and property.

Meanwhile, the electoral commissioner who is testifying before the Kriegler Commission said the commission's national tallying centre failed to detect the glaring mistakes and went ahead to announce the results with the anomalies. During the testimony the electoral official reportedly said main opposition leader Raila Odinga was indicated in the official record he prepared as having garnered 17,706 votes while he actually scored 29,648.

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