, NAIROBI, Kenya, May 9 – Kenya still has a long way to go in its bid to organise and conduct free and fair elections, according to Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa.
Wamalwa says key issues that must be tackled are setting up credible institutions, the observance for the rule of law and the respect for those institutions.
“One lesson we bring back home is that the French believe in their institutions; they have had good and rough times but over time they have put up strong and respectable institutions. We never saw a politician attacking the Constitutional Council overseeing the elections, the Commission on Polling nor the Commission on Campaign Financing,” Wamalwa said on arrival from France where he led Kenyan election observers to witness the second round of the French presidential poll.
In the runoff, Francois Hollande was elected France’s first Socialist president in nearly two decades dealing a humiliating defeat to Nicolas Sarkozy.
Hollande led in opinion polls throughout the campaigns and won the April 22 first round with 28.6 percent to Sarkozy’s 27.2 percent – making the right-winger the first-ever incumbent to lose in the first round.
Sarkozy failed to overcome deep-rooted anger at meagre economic growth and increasing joblessness and disappointment after he failed to live up to the promises of his 2007 election.
Back home, Wamalwa insisted that there was a need to pass the Bill regulating the conduct and publication of opinion polls in the electioneering period as well as the passing of the Campaign Financing Bill.
“We have set out national values and we want to set up a value based society where we will ensure that when we elect leaders, we know what they stand for and also their sources of funding so that we do not have money from drugs financing our politics,” he added saying that politics must be issue-based.
Controls on campaign moneys are aimed at ensuring that no politician or party amplifies the use of money on campaigns. They are also required to disclose the sources of the money in use.
The Justice Minister said that there should also be elaborate laws to guide the transition process to the next elected government.
President Mwai Kibaki who will be retiring at the end of his term has pledged to ensure that there will be a smooth and peaceful transition after the elections.
The chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Isaack Hassan has in the meanwhile urged Kenyans in the Diaspora to register with their respective embassies so that their numbers are accurately known to avoid possible disputes.
He maintained that the IEBC will continue to use electronic voter registration and the acclaimed electronic transmission of provisional results that has been largely successful during by-elections.
“We want their real numbers known and verified by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs so that we can plan for them. We hear about three million voters but we need to deal with confirmed figures,” he insisted.
Others who were on the observation mission in France were Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo, former Siakago MP Justin Muturi, the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC) Mzalendo Kibunjia, Star newspaper journalist Paul Ilado and a representative of the National Democratic Institute.