The Star (Nairobi)

8 February 2013

Kenyans Confident of Free, Fair Poll - Report

Kenyans confident in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission's ability to conduct the March 4 General Elections, a report by the African Union of Eminent Persons has said.

According to the South Consulting report, over 90 per cent of the respondents said they have confidence in the IEBC and a similar number believe that the IEBC is independent enough to conduct the elections.

The Judiciary which rated at 76 per cent, is among other key institutions that have recorded increased public confidence among Kenyans. This is largely due to key reforms that have been implemented since the enactment of the new constitution.

However the report suggests that the failure of IEBC to deal with party hopping, formation of alliances by elites who do not consult members, and founding parties on the basis of ethnicity will weaken the foundation of a credible election as politicians will continue ignoring the rule of law.

The report has also expressed concerns over the the IEBC's inconsistency with deadlines.

"Furthermore, the requisite managerial capacity of the IEBC to conduct elections is yet to be properly tested. Elections comprise several tasks, all rolled into one major task, and carried out in a few days. On account of this, the Commission should carefully test and review its systems and address any weaknesses before the actual date of the election. This is important to ensure there are no feelings of false security." the AU Eminent Persons has said.

The report also found that internal resistance to reforms within the Judiciary has also sustained the public's perception that courts are unlikely to deliver fair judgement in cases pitting the powerful against ordinary people.

The report has also found that public confidence in political parties is low . Pre-election strategies by different communities to gainpower through the March 4 elections is also causing anxiety in this pre-election period.

The South Consulting report found that the formation of ethnic alliances at the national level is reproducing similar alliances at local levels with some community leaders negotiating political power. The report suggests that in areas where this competition is intense, violence is likely to be mobilised.

Other concerns as Kenya prepares for the General Election is insecurity in some parts of the country particularly the inter-communal and resource based conflicts in some parts of the Coast and Nothern Kenya that has seen thousands in these regions displaced.

Kenya also needs to deal with the activities of resurgent illegal groups. Curbing rising hate speech, especially through social networking sites.

"The IEBC and the new leadership of the police force have to agree on and put in place an effective early warning, response and mitigation strategy for election-related violence, given current indications. Civic and voter education could also do with some improved coordination and IEBC's leadership in forging strong partnerships with other providers." the AU Eminent Personalities suggests

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