, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 29 – The Elections Observation Group (ELOG) has rejected calls by the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) for a change of guard at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
CORD leaders had wanted IEBC bosses sent packing on account of the failure of the Electronic Results Transmission System (RTS) during March 4 General Election.
The organisation’s chairman Kennedy Masime said despite the failure of the system, the election results released by the commission were generally credible and the commission could not be held solely responsible for the shortcomings of the General Election.
“You can’t blame everything on one particular institution or individual. Elections are not an event; they are processes that involve multiple players including Parliament which changed some of the laws last minute. We need to handle institutions more carefully. We just don’t need to keep on changing. How long will we keep on changing?” he posed.
Instead, Masime called on opposition legislators to focus their attentions on the amendment of conflicting portions of election law, the adoption of campaign financing regulations and the full implementation of one-third gender rule.
On its part, the commission through its vice-chairperson Lillian Mahiri-Zaja asked the opposition leaders calling for their dismissal to exercise patience as it works toward facilitating election processes that are above reproach.
“It is unfortunate that our leaders are making those comments. IEBC is a new institution and our institutions must be allowed to grow. And it’s not just IEBC that has been under attack. The Salaries and Remuneration Commission as well has come under attack for simply carrying out its mandate,” she said.
On Saturday former Vice-President Kalonzo Musyoka read mischief in the failure of the RTS during the General Election given it worked successfully in the just concluded Makueni by-election.
“Yesterday the electronic transmission mechanism seems to have worked very well and one wonders why it did not work during the General Election, that’s the main question,” he said.
Mahiri-Zaja denied these allegations explaining that the RTS worked well on account of the smaller numbers involved in the Makueni by-election.
“Remember during the elections we had six ballots and it was all in one day. This was only a Senatorial by-election and the voters were not more than 300,000 and we had over 12 million Kenyans vote in the general election. The difference is huge.”
And despite the RTS failure, Mahiri-Zaja said the electoral commission stood by the election results it released and would have no problem explaining away the discrepancies between the total number of votes cast for the six different electoral offices.
The commission may be able to explain why more people cast their ballots for the Presidency than for any other office but they will be hard pressed to explain why election material was still arriving in the country four months after the fact.
While acknowledging the procurement malfeasance, Mahiri-Zaja was unable to explain it asking that the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission be given time to carry out investigations and make their findings public.
Mahiri-Zaja and Masime were speaking at the launch of ELOG’s final report on the March 4 General Election.
The report was compiled by the eleven civil society organisations and religious groups including FIDA Kenya, SUPKEM and NCCK that make up the domestic election observation group ELOG.