CONCERNS OVER DEVELOPMENTS IN THE ELECTORAL ENVIRONMENT .
NAIROBI, KENYA: Thursday, December 22, 2016 –
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission wishes to express its concerns on recent developments with regards to the 2017 General Election preparations.
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. It is eight months to the next General Election. 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. In the last few weeks, the IEBC has attempted to reach out to the key players in this process. 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 have listened to neutral voices on this matter. We support the proposal that a team of non-partisan or bi-partisan actors be at the centre of constructive political dialogue whenever necessary.
Changes to the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016
The IEBC welcomed the political dialogue that led to enactment of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2016. It is over two months since the provisions of the new amendments became operational. However, the IEBC has raised concerns over some of the provisions with respect to the efficient management and delivery of credible elections. 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.
Following events in the National Assembly and the recent debate on the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2016, the Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs (JLAC) of the National Assembly invited the IEBC to provide further clarifications on the deployment of technology in voter identification and results transmission for the coming elections. The Communication Authority of Kenya presented data on network coverage. The meeting, which was attended by members from both the Government and Opposition coalitions, demonstrated the spirit of bi-partisanship. The members agreed that they would explore agreeable amendments to address the legal gaps in the law. Further, the Committee tasked the IEBC and CA to look into options that would increase network and report findings to Parliament by January 20, 2017. The IEBC has always been committed to the implementation of the new law. But it is also the duty of IEBC to inform the public and relevant institutions when the constitutional right to vote is likely to be infringed upon by the same statutes.
IEBC Partnership with the Development Partners
In each electoral cycle, the Electoral Commission has had constructive partnerships with different development partners – both multilateral and bilateral partners. In the run-up to the 2013 General Election, the IEBC received electoral assistance from 11 international development partners. In the current cycle, the IEBC has received electoral assistance from USAID, DFID and the European Union – all through UNDP Kenya. We have also received assistance from the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and the Association of World Election Bodies (A-WEB).
We wish to set the record straight that the partnership between the IEBC and international partners is guided by the principles of national sovereignty and national ownership of the electoral process. We believe that Kenyans must take charge of their own electoral process. However, owing to our history of institutional building and democratic process, we have worked with development partners to complement national efforts.
The recent developments with respect to IFES technical assistance to the electoral process took the IEBC by surprise. IFES has supported the electoral processes in Kenya since 2002 in areas of voter education, electoral technology and gender mainstreaming, among others. The IEBC looks forward to engaging with the Executive arm of government with a view of reaching an amicable solution that seeks to strengthen our democracy.
INDEPENDENT ELECTORAL AND BOUNDARIES COMMISSION.