, NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 1 – An elections observation group has faulted the conduct of aspirants in the recent by-elections claiming they violated the Political Parties Act.
The Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) which also released a report on the polls, said voter bribery and inducement featured prominently among Narc-Kenya, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) and the Party of National Unity (PNU) candidates.
Executive Director Peter Okoth added that the door-to-door campaigns that characterised the campaigns created room for undue influence by the participants.
“On election day we came across a number of cases and allegations of voter bribery by politicians and political party agents in Juja and Makadara constituencies. We alerted the Master Presiding Officer about the cases and were informed that the matter had been reported to the police," he said.
He further said that the integrity and character of the candidates were not well scrutinised by the constituents and the Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC).
"The by-elections were heavily commercialised and this happened at the expense of real issues. They were essentially an arena for the display of money and wealth; the campaigns were heavy on money spent than the issues that were canvassed," he added.
The civil society also faulted the political parties that fielded candidates through direct nomination arguing that it was against the spirit of democracy.
"There were no party primaries conducted; instead candidates were hand-picked and this robs party members of the opportunity to participate in the process of determining party candidates. It also the reason why party defections occur," he said.
Mr Okoth further proposed that the Political Parties Act be reviewed to tighten its provisions and ensure that all electioneering processes were properly managed.
"Section 17 of this Act creates room for party hopping as it only requires those moving parties to seek a different nomination to give 14 days notice. We need to introduce a provision that would only allow such persons to get their nomination if they have been party members for at least six months prior to the date of nomination," he said.
IED further asked the Chief Justice to gazette the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal Rules which was developed by the Registrar of Political Parties. They also wanted the capacity of the IIEC increased to deal with persons who violated any of the electoral regulations.
"It will operationalise the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal which will provide a forum for dealing with misconduct and bad behavior on the part of political parties," he said.
Prime Minister Raila Odinga, Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka and other senior government officials were also accused of misusing state resources and personnel to conduct by-election campaigns for their preferred candidates.
Further, Mr Okoth asked the IIEC to consider setting electioneering dates on weekends and to extend the closing time to 6:00 pm. This, he argued, would increase voter participation.
"The voter turnout was relatively low. In Makadara it stood at 40.3 percent while in Juja and Starehe constituencies it was 44.94 and 41.46 percent respectively," he said.
IED recruited and deployed 117 observers in all polling stations in Juja, Makadara and Starehe constituencies. In addition 22 polling stations in Starehe, 26 in Makadara and 68 in Juja were randomly visited by the civil group\’s staff.