Let IEBC clear hurdles for free and fair polls

With just under two months to the next general election, the nagging question is whether the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is ready to conduct free and fair polls.

Chairman Wafula Chebukati has assured all that it is possible. This follows concerns raised by Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance and Kenya Kwanza Alliance about the preparations for the coming elections.

The past week has been extremely busy for the IEBC, as it conducted its simulation of the transmission of election results to assess its readiness to deliver. There were delays in transmission with regard to 2,900 sampled polling stations. The lessons from the exercise will hopefully strengthen this aspect of the electoral process.

However, the agency says it has enhanced security features to make it hard for anyone to interfere with election results. It will also use satellite modems to transmit results from areas out of the existing mobile telephone networks.

The IEBC should also heed Chief Justice Martha Koome’s advice to address the issues raised by the Supreme Court, which nullified the 2017 presidential election. The apex court found the election was not conducted in line with the Constitution, citing the IEBC’s failure to, for instance, ensure the transmission and declaration of the results was verifiable and not riddled with irregularities.

It is laudable, however, that the agency’s Dispute Resolution Committee is already hearing complaints filed by 160 aspirants who failed to get clearance. The team should complete the job in two weeks, paving the way for preparation of the ballot papers.

The agency may have suffered a setback when the National Assembly adjourned indefinitely after rejecting amendments it had hoped would have helped to seal loopholes in the voting system, but this should be a wake-up call to tighten its processes.

The IEBC must work meticulously to gain the confidence of all the players in the coming elections. This it can do by promptly and adequately addressing any concerns or complaints.