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Rights Lawyer Takes Issue with Kenya's Kriegler Commission's Findings

The Kriegler Commission which was set up to look into the conduct of last December's controversial and violent general election in Kenya has presented its final report to President Mwai Kibaki. In excerpts published in local Kenyan media, the commission says last December's election was marred by bribery, vote buying and intimidation making it impossible for any candidate to claim victory.

The Kriegler Commission recommends a total overhaul of the Kenyan Electoral Commission for failing to conduct a legitimate election.

Human Rights lawyer Harun Ndubi is with the organization Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice. He told he's not surprised by the commission's findings that the election lacked credibility and integrity. But Ndubi said he would have loved for the commission to be clear about who in government was responsible for the irregularities.

"I think there are certain questions about the Kriegler Commission itself and more importantly and Mr. Johann Kriegler as a person and the interpretation of his mandate. I think the commission may have gone an extra mile to think the entire election activity was shrouded in incompetence and big problems that have made it difficult to say who exactly won the election. But I think this is a view that Mr. Johann Kriegler himself decided to uphold from the time he was appointed. I therefore do not accept that finding that it was impossible to say that the election would have been won one way or the other," he said.

Kenyan Electoral Commission Chairman Samuel Kivuitu said last month that there were discrepancies in the vote tallies from a number of constituencies.

Yet Kriegler Commission members disagreed on claims that there was vote rigging at national tally centers.

Ndubi sees contradiction between Electoral Commission Chairman Kivuitu and the Kriegler Commission's claim that there was no rigging.

"The proposition by the commission is highly contradictory. On the hand it suggests that there were problems about the appointment of commissioners, but they can't say who was responsible for the rigging. Two, they tried in some very unclear way, to create a distinction between the role and function of various commissioners. They are trying to blame commission officials at the lower level, but try to clear the higher level responsibility of the commission," he said.

Ndubi said there was visible evidence that rigging did occur during the election, and the Kriegler Commission should have been able to establish where such rigging occurred, by whom and to what extent.

The Kriegler Commission recommended a complete overhaul of the Kenyan Electoral Commission for its failure to conduct a legitimate election.

Ndubi said he agreed with the Kriegler Commission's conclusion that the electoral commission lacked the independence and capacity to conduct a legitimate election because of its appointment and composition.

But he said the electoral commission should have told the Kenyan people who might have benefited from such shortcomings.

"Indeed in the context of administration of accountability, the buck must stop with the electoral commission. However in whose favor was the rigging done? Who was the main beneficiary? Who promoted it? Who define the rigging? Who appointed those commissioners? Those types of questions will then redirect us to people who have higher culpable responsibility for the rigging," Ndubi said.