All stakeholders have a role in delivery of free and fair polls


A woman casts her ballot at Dandora Secondary School polling station in Nairobi during Kenya's General Election on August 9, 2022. 

Photo credit: File | AFP

Kenya’s election is arguably the most competitive and contested not only in Africa but across the world. Since the advent of multi-partyism in 1992, the country has gone through different phases of election-related tension and violence that has resulted in death and destruction of property.

The worst electoral cycle was experienced in 2007 when elections-related violence broke out following the disputed presidential elections results culminating into the death of over 1,300 people and the displacement of over half a million others.

The post 2010 constitution elections in 2013,2017 and 2022 saw a similar scenario where the main opposition coalition parties of Cord, Nasa and Azimio respectively protested the win of the The National Alliance, Jubilee and United Democratic Alliance presidential candidate.

In all these elections, violence and loss of life was witnessed putting the country on the brink of anarchy and civil strife. The 2013 general election led to the disbandment of the Ahmed-Issack Hassan led Commission in 2016 and in the subsequent polls of 2017 occasioned the mass resignation of four Commissioners.

In the 2022 general election, it was not all rosy as the Commission remains in limbo as it is not fully constituted with the secretariat only undertaking operational matters.

The reconstitution of the IEBC was top on the agenda of the recently concluded bi-partisan talks between the Kenya Kwanza and Azimio One coalitions where the National Dialogue Committee(NADCO) recommended a raft of proposals to transform the electoral body.

The state of affairs in Kenya’s electoral landscape has been chaotic and somewhat confusing. The election cycles look quiet with the country’s Elections Management Body EMB literally ticking the box as the count down to the poll nears.

From voter registration, voter inspection, procurement of strategic polls materials to recruitment of poll officials and voting. The successful conduct of the August 2010 referendum by the Interim Independent Electoral Commission was a pointer to good things to come, the interim body was given thumbs up and showered with accolades and trust levels shot up to the roof.

This was not the case as the beginning of the problems of the Commission after transition into Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in 2012.

Whereas IEBC has to roll up its sleeves and pull up its socks on how it manages elections in the country, most often than not it had to take the flak for the loss of election by politicians. Even when the courts uphold the result of an election in any level at an election petition, it is easy to pass the back to IEBC.

There are adequate legislations to see us through the conduct of a free and fair elections

The vested interest often exhibited by various arms of government in all kinds of reforms in the country’s public institution be they electoral, anti-corruption and land will also continue to affect public institutions that would want to undertake sweeping surgical reforms in the delivery of service.

Political parties that are primary stakeholders in the electoral cycle have often failed to impress when conducting their party primaries.

No fingers are pointed at their incompetence and chaotic party nominations and the same parties that conduct sham primaries are the first to hurl all manner of venom and barbs at the electoral commission. What an irony. Let those who live in glass houses not throw stones.

Despite the acrimonious manner of our elections and the disaffection of the electoral losers. Kenya’s Electoral Management Body have always stood to be counted in the delivery of transparent elections.

Disputed election results has become the bellwether of a prolonged political quagmire that eventually culminates into some sort of national dialogue that temporarily cools off the political temperature before a resurgence at the declaration of the results of the next general elections.

While observing elections in Norway recently, we noted that, without a holistic approach to the principle and concept of trust and faith in our public institutions, then the IEBC will continue facing challenges in winning the confidence of Kenyans.

- Mr Harar is the County Elections Manager, Mandera County