Kenya’s Electoral Commission (ECK) has nine days to set a date for December’s presidential and parliamentary elections. This comes after incumbent President Mwai Kibaki dissolved parliament Monday effectively empowering the electoral commission to set a date for the elections. Some political observers have hailed the president’s action and have described it as step in the right direction, as it would give all the political parties enough time to prepare for their various campaigns ahead of the December vote.
Meanwhile, three recent polls show the incumbent, President Kibaki, trailing behind opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) presidential candidate Raila Odinga, while Kolonzo Musyoka of the Orange Democratic Movement - Kenya (ODM-Kenya) follows at a distant third.
The recent reported defection of two government ministers to the Odinga camp has boosted his campaign to become Kenya's fourth president since independence from Britain in 1963. Under the constitution, the next parliament must convene within three months of the dissolution of the existing assembly.
Political analyst Paul Mbatia tells reporter Peter Clottey Kenyans are excited about the prospects of the December elections.
“The whole country has been expecting that, especially the members of parliament. They were all eager waiting for parliament to be dissolved, and when it happened today, people are very excited talking about it because the dissolution of parliament gives a large signal that the campaigns are just about to start. People are waiting to see what members of parliament are going to do, given that many are expected to change sides and the public is waiting see what action they are going to take, ” Mbatia said.
He said Kenyans repose confidence in the electoral commissions ability to hold a free, fair and credible elections in December.
“I think if there is one thing that Kenyans are proud about is that we have proved in the past that we can be able to conduct free and fair elections. If we were able to do it during the time of KANU when (Daniel Arap) Moi was in power, and the incumbent was defeated, that was the proof that it is possible for an incumbent regime to be defeated, showing that an election can be free and fair. In my analysis, I think I have no doubt that we have developed a capacity to hold a free and fair elections,” he noted.
Mbatia said President Kibaki’s recent bashing of opposition leader Odinga on the country’s heroes day, is nothing new to Kenya’s body politic.
“History repeats itself because this has also happened before when Kibaki, Raila were all in the opposition and President Moi was in power. President Moi would take the opportunity to bash the opposition, and this time around it was Kibaki who was directing his bashing to Raila Odinga and the group. One would say that, that is not the best day to talk about your political opponents. You would rather talk about the history of this nation and how the heroes fought to create the nation we have today. But as you know, in politics there are no rules, and politicians would take opportunities to undermine their opponents,” Mbatia pointed out.