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Saturday, July 31, 2021

Speed up passage of electoral laws, ELOG urges parliament

By Frontier Post Reporter

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An advisory organ of the Elections Observation Group has urged Parliament to speed up the electoral legal reforms and avert more incidents of violence especially at the anticipated referendum and the 2022 polls.

The Advisory and Peace Panel (APP)-the highest policy-level organ of ELOG said that the continued ignoring of the critical component in the electoral cycle, would lead to more chaos as the country readies itself for the next general election.

“For more than three years now, ELOG and other stakeholders in the electoral sector have called upon Parliament to speed up the crucial electoral reforms. This call has been ignored, and if this trend continues, then the next electoral cycle will be chaotic and possibly tragic for this nation,” said FIDA Chair Nancy Ikinu on behalf of the team.

And now the Elections Observers wants parliament to speed up the processing and passing of Political Party Primaries Bill, Referendum Bill, Campaign Finance (Amendment) Bill, Representation of Special Interest Groups Bill and the Gender Parity Bill.

The Independent Review Commission (IREC) chaired by retired South African Judge Johann Kriegler recommended that electoral reforms should not be undertaken at least less than one year to the General Elections.

ELOG last week detailed incidents of voter bribery, electoral violence, intimidation and possible electoral malpractices with allegations of pre-marked ballot papers being stored near a polling station and electoral officials being harassed.

“This prevailing electoral environment, coupled with the slow rate of reforms, is worrying as it is likely to get worse as the expected referendum and 2022 general elections get closer.

The group further urged Parliament, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal and other stakeholders to consultatively speed up the necessary electoral reforms to safeguard the 2022 General Elections.

They argued that tenets of democracy require that electoral management bodies be adequately provisioned in terms of human and financial resources to enable them execute their mandates and be independent.

According to ELOG funding the independent bodies like IEBC, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal (PPDT) and the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties (ORPP) will enable them adopt an electoral cycle approach.

“We are therefore concerned that these institutions continue to be starved of funding and personnel to effectively implement their programmes. There is also a growing level of disrespect and disparaging of these institutions with many political leaders and civil servants issuing public statements that discredit their independence and cause a negative perception. We warn Kenyans that a similar trend was witnessed in the 2006 – 2007 period, leading to the chaos and violence witnessed in 2007,” read part of the statement.

And now, ELOG argues that to avert a repeat of the same, they recommend that Parliament should create independent funding mechanisms for such institutions similar to the Political Parties Fund contained in the PPA (2011), such as an IEBC Fund and PPDT Fund.

In addition, ELOG charges that the President and concerned institutions should urgently fill the vacant positions in the Supreme Court of Kenya and the entire Judiciary and the IEBC.

ELOG is also concerned that narratives such as ‘Dynasties vs Hustlers’ is an affront to national cohesion and integrity and to avert possible violence during the referendum and elections, all actors should adhere to the electoral legal framework which is clear on the timelines for political campaigns.

“Any activity outside this framework should be discontinued and action taken on violators and that leaders to exercise political restraint and civic responsibility in their public utterances and meetings. Those found to be violating and flouting these guidelines should be held accountable and necessary action taken against them,” said Ms Ikinu.

ELOG holds the view that for every vote to count, those charged with the responsibility for promoting, protecting and fulfilling the right to vote must discharge such responsibilities with utmost dedication and with strict adherence to the laid down laws and procedures.

“We call upon all Kenyans to maintain the peace, sobriety and discharge their civic responsibility with dedication. Let us all be committed to a Peaceful, Free, Fair and Credible Election in 2022 and the anticipated referendum,” she said.

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