, NAIROBI, Kenya, July 9 – Political parties have refused to endorse the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) strategic plan 2015-2020 saying they were not adequately consulted.
The party’s representatives some of whom attended the launch said although they had a meeting with the commissioners, the time given to review the report and present their views was insufficient and had even demanded for more time which was seemingly ignored.
Wavinya Ndeti who chairs the Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC) said the members were irked by comments made by IEBC Vice Chairperson Lilian Mahiri-Zaja during the launch insinuating that political parties were responsible for the deteriorating confidence in the electoral body.
“The political parties were not happy with the way they were being handled by the IEBC. It is very sad if the Vice Chairperson of IEBC can just talk where we have other stakeholders and say that political parties are the problem, what did she mean?” demanded Ndeti.
During her address, Mahiri-Zaja blamed the decline in confidence on the electoral body on the influence of political parties which have caused divisions among Kenyans.
“By the time we were going for the 2013 elections, public confidence in the commission stood at 90 percent. That number has since dropped because the country was divided along political lines,” she said.
“Politics affects the work of the commission although we are independent.”
Ndeti pointed out that their quarrel with IEBC was their involvement in political party disputes which they have insisted should be resolved by another body which is not likely to be biased.
“They (political parties) feel since they are the ones in charge of elections there should be another body that deals with dispute resolutions, the political parties have made it clear that they do not want IEBC to be involved,” stated Ndeti.
While the National Alliance, the United Republican Party, Chama cha Uzalendo among other small parties were represented, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy made good their threat to boycott the launch which they said had not accommodated their request for more time.
Mahiri-Zaja however defended herself saying they had done their best to accommodate the parties and even take in some of their proposals into account.
It was the first time political parties stood together to oppose a proposal they felt did not accommodate their concerns.
CORD has however been consistent in the criticism of the electoral body which they say must be reconstituted, their first target being the Chairman Issack Hassan whom they accuse of being biased.
During Wednesday’s meeting with IEBC, the CORD leadership said Hassan should not oversee the 2017 General Election as he had sworn an affidavit against the former PM.
They have also questioned the integrity of the IEBC commissioners some who have been linked to the infamous ‘chicken gate’ scandal.
However National Assembly Speaker Justin Muturi who was the chief guest at Thursday’s event urged the commission to extend an olive branch to those who feel left out saying this will help the commission redeem its lost glory.
“It is one thing for the commission and all stakeholders to have taken time to develop this plan, but it will not be without criticism. Let us invite all of them to help IEBC implement this strategic plan, the space is available,” he said.
He at the same time called on Kenyans to ensure their criticism of institutions was constructive and meant to build them.
Political parties have since called for a meeting to resolve the dispute.
IEBC Chief Executive Ezra Chiloba expressed confidence that the strategic plan would restore trust in the electoral body saying the commission had since learnt from the mistakes of past elections.
“We want to deliver elections that are free, fair and credible; we want people to have faith in electoral democracy,” he said.