, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 22 – The recently concluded parliamentary by-election in South Mugirango has been endorsed as credible and transparent by an observer organisation.
In a report released on Tuesday, the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) however identified key administrative challenges that the Interim Independent Electoral Commission needs to work on before the August fourth referendum.
The IED termed the exercise as “credible, transparent and professional manner and that generally the results reflected the wishes of the people.”
“This statement is based on eyewitness accounts and evidence submitted to IED by monitors, observers and poll watchers,” said Executive Director Peter Aling’o.
The institute lauded the commission for the introduction of electronic transmission of results from the polling stations to the tallying centre.
IED, which specialises in elections monitoring, however raised queries on the ‘undue involvement’ of IIEC commissioners in the by-election while their mandate is restricted to an oversight role.
“Despite having a functional Secretariat in place, we observed that more than half of the commissioners and managers were on the ground and were directly involved in the implementation processes,” said Mr Aling’o.
He said they recorded tension and anxiety from the presiding officers and the returning officers who felt overcrowded and under pressure to perform. The officers also exhibited anxiousness since they have not been confirmed in their posts six months into the job.
“A by-election is a small operation which does not require a massive deployment In our view, this speaks to the fact that confidence and trust has not been built between the commissioners and the technical team yet this is critical,” he said.
“What will happen during the referendum which is a major operation?” he wondered.
IED doubted the ability of the electoral body to control actions of the political parties after government ministers used public resources for campaigns while others campaigned for candidates from rival parties. It stated that the Political Parties Act was violated throughout the process.
“We recommend that that the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties be strengthened in terms of staffing to adequately deal with issues pertaining to conduct and behavior of political parties,” said the IED Executive Director.
“We also urge the Chief Justice to operationalise the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal which will deal with misconduct, bad behaviour and culture of the parties.”
Mr Aling’o further said the commission appeared to have succumbed to the whims of politicians when it stopped the use of electronic transfer of results to the tallying centre after protests from ODM’s James Orengo.