BUNGOMA, September 20 – An Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) official has echoed sentiment expressed in the Kriegler report, as unavoidable and necessary.
Commissioner Jack Tumwa said the report, which recommends among other things a complete overhaul of the ECK, was a replica of a similar one that the electoral body presented to President Mwai Kibaki, following the post-election violence.
"What the Kriegler report has documented is the same with what our commission had done. Talk about review of electoral boundaries and laws, its all there in our report," he stressed.
The Commissioner approved that the ECK should have more autonomy when it comes to dealing with electoral offences, and renewed calls to lawmakers to make this a reality.
Tumwa warned that failure by Parliament to hasten the process of strengthening the electoral body would mean the country plunging into the same kind of turmoil every time citizens go to vote.
The death of about 1,500 people in a blood bath spawned by a bitterly disputed General Election, last December, prompted the government to form an Independent Review Commission (IREC) to probe all aspects of the poll.
Led by retired South African Judge Justice Johann Kriegler, the eight-man team toured the country conducting hearings for six months, and presented their report to the President on Wednesday.
Tumwa commended Kriegler for a ‘job well done’ but said the government should have adopted the ECK recommendations instead of employing the services of another investigative team.
"Kenyans have come to lose faith in Commissions of Inquiry due to the slow adoption and implementation. However, despite producing a replica report, we must commend the Kriegler team for working with speed to finalise the report, which is now already in the public domain," Tumwa asserted.
He said that reforms suggested in the ECK document and now in the Kriegler report were mandatory if the country wants to avoid a similar situation like the one witnessed early this year.
"MPs are our saviours if we want to avoid the culture of hiring Commissions of Inquiry to look into what went wrong after each and every election year," urged the Commissioner.
Kriegler, in his report said that ‘it was impossible’ to tell who – between President Mwai Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga – won the hotly disputed Presidential poll.
The report was handed over to the President and later to former United Nations Secretary- General Kofi Annan, who brokered peace between the feuding leaders, saving the country from sliding into civil strife.