In Kenya, the Electoral Commission (ECK) has come under increasing pressure after a recent poll showed that Kenyans doubt its ability to organize a free and fair elections on December 7. This comes after a recent appointment of commissioners to the electoral commission by incumbent President Mwai Kibaki. Some Kenyans say the appointees could potentially be influenced to work in favor of President Kibaki to the detriment of the opposition presidential candidates.
Meanwhile, President Kibaki has extended the term of ECK chairman Samuel Kivuitu for another five years, starting December third this year.
Joseph Maggoot is a Kenyan political analyst. He tells reporter Peter Clottey from the capital, Nairobi, that the president’s recent appointments have not gone down well with most Kenyans.
“I think the decision is a result of the fact that the president has just appointed some new commissioners without consulting the members of the opposition, and I think which is a breach of the inter-party broke of 1997. This time round the president decided to unilaterally appoint his own cronies, which I think raised a lot of suspicion to the effect that they would essentially fall into the trap of the dictates of the president and of course they would essentially therefore cheat in the polls or rig the elections to come,” Maggoot pointed out.
He said the extension of the electoral commission chairman ‘s contract has somewhat allayed the fears of some Kenyans.
“But right now since the president has now renewed the contract of the chairman Samuel Kivuitu, this seems to have settled the pressure and the fears of the public,” he said.
Maggoot said the president’s credibility could have taken a nosedive if he had refused to extend the term of electoral commissioner chairman Samuel Kivuitu.
“President Kibaki had no option other than renew the contract of the chairman of the electoral organization, given the fact that basically the country is a few weeks to the national poll. And so it was incumbent and prudent upon him to do that. Otherwise if he had failed to renew the contract of Samuel Kivuitu, that would have prompted a lot of speculations, suspicions and distrust… that he was up to something, cheating or rigging the elections. And so that would have really, really damaged the reputation of the president. And that would have given the opposition political capital to essentially rash up pressure on the government,” noted Maggoot.
He said although there is truth in former President Arap Moi’s claim that he has spies in the opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), the opposition party would take steps to mitigate that.
“There is almost some element of truth in it because already we do have some people who have picked nomination forms contesting parliamentary seats of the Orange Democratic Movement. But it would appear the party is already in the know and is taken measure to essentially make sure that those individuals that are going to act as Trojan horses are taken care off with regards to making sure that they don’t wreck the party from within,” he said.