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Kenyans Await By-Election Results Amidst Calls For Electoral Commission Disbandment

Kenyans are awaiting the complete results of the parliamentary by-election today (Friday) amidst calls for the disbandment of the Electoral Commission. Prime Minister Raila Odinga other leaders of the main opposition Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) in the unity government are calling for a total overhaul of the electoral commission. But the chairman of the commission, Samuel Kivuitu, and other commissioners are dismissing the calls for their removal as unfortunate.

Calls for the disbandment of the electoral commission amplified after the Kriegler Commission of inquiry called for a radical reform of the electoral commission and a creation of a new management that would be professional in organizing elections that would meet international standards.

Mustapha Ali is a Kenyan political analyst. From the capital, Nairobi he tells reporter Peter Clottey that the electoral commission has proven to be an embarrassment to all Kenyans.

"First of all the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) has become an organization that is synonymous with shame and is being blamed for triggering the post-election violence in Kenya. And really, very few Kenyans and very insignificant number have any confidence in the Electoral Commission of Kenya," Ali noted.

He said there is an overwhelming majority call for a total overhaul of the electoral commission.

"The mood is that the ECK has to disband, and the Prime Minister (Raila Odinga) earlier today for the umpteenth time said that the ECK has to be disbanded. And Indeed the Kriegler commission report, which was established or released last week, indicates that Kenyans deserve a better electoral commission," he said.

Ali said there was uncertainty about the fate of the electoral commission, but that it quickly dissipated after the findings were made known to Kenyans.

"I think that this was the view shared before the Krieger Commission released its report. And I think now, within the cabinet and members of parliament here in the country are all in the view that really ECK has to be disbanded. And if it's not disbanded then there is no way it is going to conduct business, and even this by-election, which is being conducted are we are expecting the results today, it is being reported that the turn out has been extremely low. People sort of lost hope and confidence in voting, why go queue with time while the whole thing is being conducted by a commission that has done a grave mistake in the past?" Ali asked.

He said the refusal of the chairman of the electoral commission to resign despite overwhelming reported call by Kenyans is unfortunate.

"It is very stupid of the Electoral Commission Chairman Samuel Kivuiti to say that he and his team are not going to resign because the mood is very clear that they have to go, and I think it is going to be either they resign or the commission is just disbanded. And Kenyans are not taking very kindly for saying things like this," he said.

Ali said Kenyans would not relent until the electoral commission is disbanded.

"What I can tell you for a fact is that pressure is mounting on the ECK to just go. And if they don't go, pressure is really mounting on the cabinet, on the government, on President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga to take action and disband this commission," Ali pointed out.