Panel upbeat on electoral reforms - Daily Nation

Panel upbeat on electoral reforms

Wednesday October 31 2012

Kofi Annan (right) with former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa during a press conference in Nairobi, October 11, 2012. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI

Kofi Annan (right) with former Tanzanian president Benjamin Mkapa during a press conference in Nairobi, October 11, 2012. Photo/STEPHEN MUDIARI Nation Media Group

By PETER LEFTIE [email protected]

The Panel of Eminent African Personalities has passed a vote of confidence in the electoral reforms taking place in the country ahead of the General Election.

The panel has at the same time expressed confidence in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission’s (IEBC) ability to conduct a free and fair election.

A report compiled by the South Consulting research firm on behalf of the panel chaired by chief mediator Kofi Annan noted that majority of the laws necessary for a successful and democratic election had been passed.

It singled out the delimitation of boundaries for the constituencies and wards, a process it termed complete.

The report however expressed fears that Parliament’s failure to resolve the controversy surrounding the two thirds gender rule could bring to question the legality of the next Parliament.

“Uncertainty also remained regarding the courts that have jurisdiction to hear disputes arising from the first round of the presidential election,” the report notes.

The report disclosed that the IEBC still commanded the support of majority of Kenyans despite the delay in the acquisition of the Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits, which has forced the electoral body to push the start of the voter registration exercise from November 1 to November 12.

”Up to 72 per cent of respondents believe the IEBC is independent enough to conduct the next General Election in a free and fair manner,” the report notes. “These are important approval ratings because they come at a time when the commission has been experiencing controversy over procurement of BVR and when questions about internal divisions over the powers of the chief executive officer had become public,” it added.

It recommended the need to protect IEBC from unnecessary politicisation of its administrative operations, which it blamed for the internal feuds pitting the chairman Isaack Hassan and the Secretary James Oswago.

The panel warned that the recent violence in Coast province could negatively affect the General Election if not contained.

“Inter-community conflicts arising from competition for resources are rapidly transforming into struggles for control of political power in multi-ethnic counties. These conflicts should be addressed in earnest to prevent them from consolidating into election violence,” the panel said in reference to the skirmishes in Tana Delta which left over 100 people killed and thousands displaced. Read (Panel warns of ethnic tensions)

The coast region has also witnessed the violent uprising by the Mombasa Republican Council (MRC) which is advocating for cessation from Kenya.

The panel questioned the capacity of the police to address the violence noting that many Kenyans want the force professionalised among other reforms.

The panel further warned that relations between communities that experienced post-election violence remain fragile quoting a survey which showed that 79 per cent of respondents thought that communities have reconciled ‘just a little’ or ‘not at all’.

“Although no violence related to the 2007 elections has occurred since the signing of the National Accord, healing has been slow. Healing in some areas has also been subject to national level political dynamics,” the report observed.

It however noted that over 60 per cent of Kenyans are supportive of prosecution by the International Criminal Court (ICC) to end impunity and avoids a repeat of the post election violence.

The report further noted that upto 71 per cent of Kenyans also want other perpetrators of violence to be tried with only 20 per cent saying that they should be granted amnesty or forgiven.