, NAIROBI, Kenya, Sept 8 – Retired South African judge Johann Kriegler has defended the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) over its conduct of the 2013 General Election as the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) mobilises support for its disbandment over the poll.
Kriegler whose recommendations following the 2008 post-election violence (PEV) were used to inform the overhaul of the electoral system in the run up to the 2013 General Election, said he was “astounded that so little has gone wrong.”
This given the fact that IEBC was conducting elections for six electoral positions on the same day in what Kriegler said was one of the most complex elections in the world.
“I do not know of a comparable election management body so young, so new in the job that could run a brand new election with six parallel elections being run at 32,000 voting points,” he opined.
The failure of the electronic transmission of results, Kriegler said, was not so strange in the African setting adding that it was inevitable that something would go wrong.
“I speak without fear of contradiction. There is only one rule in all elections: Something will go wrong,” he said. “In any election. Whether it be Denmark or Switzerland. Something will go wrong.”
A change in the voting system however, he said, was not the solution as the real problem with Kenya lay not in facilitation of general elections but in the lack of democracy at the political party level.
“Excuse my frankness (but) your political parties are nothing more than sham stoking horses for political leaders to pursue their ambitions,” he said.
And until Kenyans focused more on the ideology of parties as opposed to their ethnic alignments, he adjudged, Kenya would always run the risk of a repeat of the 2008 PEV.
“Is there anybody here who can identify for me five differences between the programme of principles of the front runner and the second runner in the last Presidential election?” he challenged. “Or were they Kikuyu linked up with Kalenjin together?”
Kenyans should not kid themselves either, he said, that the Constitution – passed in response to that dark chapter in Kenya’s history – was a panacea.
“If people are in discord with one another, a marriage contract can’t make the marriage work. If partners in a business are at logger heads with one another, the partnership agreement can’t make the partnership work. A Constitution can’t make a country function properly. A country can make its Constitution function, yes. But not the other way around,” he said.
The political parties present at Monday’s IEBC organised stakeholders forum on the 2013 general election however did not entirely agree with Kriegler’s glowing appraisal of the electoral body.