NAIROBI, August 30 – After close to six months of inquiry the Independent Review Commission (IREC) probing last year’s disputed polls said Saturday that the solution to the country’s messy electoral process squarely rests on the citizenry’s ability to put politicians to account.
Speaking to Capital News, IREC Secretary Jorgen Elkilit said that the success of the necessary reforms depends on the pressure to be exerted on the political class by members of public.
“Our joint wisdom in the commission will help us to come up with the solutions and ideas which can work and they will only work if Kenyans want them to work,” he emphasized.
Elkilit said that there is need to reform the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and give it more power to be in charge of the all important process.
“Some legislation is required and it is up to the ordinary Kenyan to follow the work to ensure that politicians do not forget to complete it,” he said.
His sentiments have been stamped by IREC Chair Johann Kriegler.
“Systems don’t solve societal problems, society solves societal problems. Accountability comes from active voters saying to their representatives, what have you been doing with the mandate I gave you?” kriegler voiced at one of the hearings.
IREC which was a product of the mediation talks was mandated to investigate the conduct of the ECK, political parties, the Media and the government during the polls. It has spent the last five and a half months listening to submissions made by members of public and officials of the ECK.
Although party supporters and the civil society have pointed fingers on the conduct of the electoral body no evidence was given that directly implicates any premeditated plan to rig the poll.
After months of ‘tribulations’ ECK can now breath a sigh of relief after Kriegler gave his verdict on Friday saying, “I have gone through the documents over the last six months seeking these fraud allegations and I have found nothing.”
The country’s messy electoral process has nevertheless given all the answers as to why the poll was in dispute.
The Chair dismissed allegations by the Orange Democratic Movement and a caucus of civil society that ECK’s top brass was engaged in manipulation of presidential results at the national tally to favor of the incumbent, President Mwai Kibaki.
ODM, Election observers and the Civil Society objected President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election spurring two months of civil unrest which resulted to over 1,000 deaths and displacement of more than 300,000 persons.
The post election violence was justified as a reaction of the ‘stolen poll’ an excuse ECK Chair Samuel Kivuitu has dismissed.
The ECK has been the centre of accusations with many calling for its disbandment and others proposing prosecution but IREC is diverting the anguish. To them the ‘criminals’ are politicians who have taken advantage of the open ended electoral laws to mess up everyone but them.
Electoral violence, voter bribery and intimidation, fraudulent nominations and political interference in hiring of poll staff have mainly come under the spotlight. Although the back stops at the ECK, IREC has noted that it needed to be given more power.
The electoral body has also admitted that it blundered for failing to use electronic tabulation and transmission of results which could have ensured faster and efficient tallying.
Admissions by returning officers that they made grievous arithmetic errors and contravened the electoral conduct owing to exhaustion and pressure from supporters summed up the inquiry this week.
The media has largely got the reprieve of the commission though at one point it was accused of being used by politicians to front their agenda.
The Civil society nonetheless found itself on the wrong side with Kriegler accusing it of misleading the nation.
“The kind of crime that your organisation was guilty of is, you say fraud, you say rigging and everybody follows you; and that’s one of the reasons why people get killed in this country at elections,” the Chairman retorted
The Commission finalized its public hearings yesterday and will be taking the next two weeks to write its report.