, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jan 16 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries (IEBC) on Wednesday assured Kenyans that it will conduct credible and legitimate elections come March 4.
IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago during a discussion on the state of election management, expressed confidence that relevant laws, competent IEBC staff and a voters’ register were in place.
“On a scale of one to 10, we are now at eight because we have not received the ballot papers. I am leaving those two because this can arrive late or not. The issue of the re-run will also be known after the general election is done. But if you asked me where we will be by March 4, we will be at nine out of 10,” he asserted.
Oswago said the commission had also hired 290 permanent staff who will be the returning officers in the constituencies where they are based.
Apart from being a measure of ensuring their competence and credibility, IEBC staff who engage in unethical or unlawful practices will be liable to stringent punishment including being jailed.
The IEBC has acquired an electronic rapid results transmission technique that will ensure immediate relaying of provisional results and also promote transparency.
According to Oswago, the commission has further established an election dispute management mechanism.
It also has violence monitoring tools, is fully empowered with its own investigators and prosecutors though it will work closely with the police, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions and the Judiciary.
Apart from receiving full funding to conduct the election, Oswago noted that the voters’ register was also a major achievement since eligible voters can be identified by a combination of finger prints, identity card numbers and among others facial features.
The 2007 election was characterized by cases of double registration, voting more than once and even phony voting.
“The register of 2007 showed 1.2 million dead Kenyans who were in the register. There will always be dead voters but what was eye popping is having 1.2 million voters resurrecting and voting,” he said.
The commission however admitted the 2013 elections present big challenges, considering the six elective positions being contested and that it has to release election results on the same day.
IEBC officials will be dealing with 107,274 candidates who will be nominated by all the 57 registered political parties which have up to Friday to complete their party primaries.
He also predicted an ‘explosion’ of election disputes citing the big number of candidates vying for the six positions.
The IEBC is deeply concerned with the violence in parts of the country, specifically the Tana Delta, which Oswago said had compelled the commission to get security to ensure the displaced victims are facilitated to vote.
He was dismayed that despite remarks that the violence was politically motivated, no politicians linked to the violence had been arrested.
“It is primitive… these are things that used to happen hundreds of years ago, it is worse that we appear helpless to deal with it. I don’t understand why a political player would displace people to reduce or increase numbers, and why such people go unpunished,” he regretted.