Nyando MP Fred Outa protests outside parliament buildings over the amendments of the electoral laws on December 22, 2016. PHOTO | SALATON NJAU | NATION MEDIA GROUP
- The commission has been fighting legitimacy claims after opposition politicians went to court to stop a tender awarded for the printing of ballot papers, arguing that the contract was given when Commissioners who resigned were still in office.
- Meanwhile, the umbrella workers’ union condemned the acrimonious parliamentary sitting, saying it was a recipe for chaos that it said will affect workers akin to the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has raised concerns in the manner in which political coalitions cannot agree on how to change relevant clauses in election laws.
On Thursday, the National Assembly changed the Elections Act, just two months after amending it, by introducing an alternative manual voters’ identification system if the electronic means fails.
The amendments went through in spite of protests from opposition MPs, who also failed to get order to nullify the changes.
But the Commission which had called for such an alternative system by arguing there is insufficient communication network coverage to all polling stations said this was creating unnecessary political temperatures.
“The country is witnessing unwarranted grand standing among political players on key issues that touch on the electoral process. This is not helpful and will not be helpful,” IEBC said in a statement.
“It is the duty of each actor, especially political leaders, to give Kenyans reasons to be hopeful with elections. This will require sobriety in debates, tolerance and respect for the rule of law,” said IEBC.
The changes to the Elections Act also mean that IEBC could tally results manually if the electronic system fails.
On Thursday, the Commission said its argument for an alternative system had been misinterpreted to mean a plot to fail the system.
“It is unfortunate that the issues raised by the IEBC have been misrepresented and taken out of context.
“This is despite the fact that the IEBC held a series of meetings with Parliament, media, CSOs, political parties and state actors on the implications of the new law in election management,” said the IEBC.
The commission has been fighting legitimacy claims after opposition politicians went to court to stop a tender awarded for the printing of ballot papers, arguing that the contract was given when Commissioners who resigned were still in office.
On Thursday, the selection panel handed in nominees to replace the outgoing commissioners headed by Ahmed Issack Hassan.
The Commission admitted there are various issues of concern which may include how the Commission is constituted and the elections laws. But it called for a neutral mediation to solve the impasse.
“What is evident is that there are issues of concern which must be addressed. However, there is no unanimity on the mechanism of addressing them.
“We support the proposal that a team of non-partisan or bi-partisan actors be at the centre of constructive political dialogue whenever necessary,” the commission added.
Meanwhile, the umbrella workers’ union condemned the acrimonious parliamentary sitting, saying it was a recipe for chaos that it said will affect workers akin to the 2007/2008 post-election violence.
The Francis Atwoli-led Central Organisation of Trade Unions (Cotu) asked President Uhuru Kenyatta to reject the proposals.
“The passing of this law was uncalled for in such an emotive and acrimonious sitting of MPs and it is evident some individuals have allowed power to get into their heads and use the August House to pass archaic legislations,” Mr Atwoli said.
Mr Atwoli warned that the way the laws were passed would create a ‘dangerous and scary trend” that he said des not help Kenya’s bid for accountability and transparency.
“We ask the President to exercise his wisdom as our Head of State and refuse to ascent to this law because by so doing, this will likely send this great country to the dogs,” Cotu said.