IEBC must deliver fair, transparent elections

There are worrying signs that all is not well in the preparations for the August 9 general election. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) must give a public assurance about its oft-stated commitment to running a free and fair poll.

As we have said before, IEBC has had five years to prepare for this poll and should not have an excuse for sloppiness, oversights or omissions. It has a delicate national duty whose mishandling could spell doom for the country. We have been there before, and the general consensus is that never again shall this country find itself on the edge of a precipice as happened after the hotly disputed 2007 presidential election.

The mayhem degenerated into bloodletting that cost 1,500  lives. Hundreds of thousands were uprooted from their homes and farms in Kenya’s worst post-election violence ever.

IEBC’s increasing state of unpreparedness for next month’s polls is not excusable. Chairman Wafula Chebukati and his team cannot afford to let the country down as they have the full mandate and financial and human resources to correct past mistakes and enhance the electoral agency’s strengths.

The journey to a free and fair election begins with transparency in the preparations. IEBC must ensure that key polling data and information is available to the parties and coalitions and the media, as the watchdog of public interest. This appears to be lacking and explains the suspicion about its intentions.

It is, for example, not clear how many polling stations there are and where the 6,000 new ones are located. Other grey areas include result transmission and whether due diligence was carried out on the firm providing election technology. Also, the voter register audit report remains under wraps two months after it was finalised. Why is this so?

A simulation on June 9 revealed a possible systematic failure that must not be allowed as it could badly erode public trust in the electoral process. Yet time is running out.