NAIROBI, October 14 – A section of the civil society wants a transitional panel established to hold brief for the embattled Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) awaiting the comprehensive review of the constitution.,
Under the banner of Kenyans for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ) the group insisted on Tuesday that the current commissioners must leave office in line with the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission which called for an overhaul of the electoral body.
Haroun Ndubi of Haki Focus led the onslaught on the ECK and called on the panel of eminent persons (that was led by former UN chief Kofi Annan) to help set up the interim electoral body.
“We appeal to each of the commissioners to resign immediately then the panel assist to appoint a commission but that commission will understand that it is a transitional body, which will have to wait for the comprehensive constitutional framework,” he said.
Justice Johann Kriegler’s team concluded after holding a six-month inquiry that the country’s electoral process was a messy affair often manned by incompetent persons. It called for the complete overhaul of the electoral body but failed short of calling for its disbandment generating heated public debate. The Cabinet, various interest groups and Kenyans in general have remained divided on the fate of Commissioners at the ECK.
The new call by the civil society came as President Mwai Kibaki chaired a Cabinet meeting with the Kriegler’s verdict top on its agenda. A section of ministers among them Prime Minister Raila Odinga has on one hand insisted that the electoral body be disbanded while another group led by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka has maintained that the exit be preceded by the electoral reforms.
KPTJ supported Kriegler’s recommendation which among other things called for the establishment of a special elections tribunal. Mr Ndubi said that the comprehensive review was the ultimate way of carrying out the various electoral reforms suggested by IREC.
Mr Ndubi however led a strongly worded critique of Kriegler’s work by KPTJ accusing the Independent Review Commission (IREC) of failing in its mandate by not placing a finger on who was to blame for the flawed poll.
Gladwell Otieno of the Africa Centre for Open Governance faulted their method of sampling and research design. She said that the Kriegler commission used a flawed statistical methodology and failed to carry out a forensic audit of the data on the poll.
“It seems like we are in a situation where everybody is incompetent and every mistake is as an error and result of incompetence and not perhaps malfeasance,” she said.
Muthoni Wanyeki of the Kenya Human Rights Commission said the truth was not established because it was never looked for. “Fraud was ruled out because it was not investigated.”
The lobby group clashed with Justice Kriegler during the inquiry earlier in the year after the chairman dismissed its evidence as lacking facts of alleged fraud. Ms Otieno has however now dismissed Justice Kriegler as arrogant.