The Star (Nairobi)

21 July 2013

Kenya: Raila Has Right to Criticise IEBC

editorial

When he arrived from a week-long trip to Australia last Sunday, Cord leader Raila Odinga took a swipe at the IEBC terming it as a failed institution. Raila threatened that unless the IEBC is dissolved, Cord supporters will boycott the 2017 general election.

Raila is within his right to express his coalition's misgivings with the electoral body. Article 33 of the constitution gives all Kenyans the freedom to express themselves. Those faulting the Cord leader are over-reacting.

One of the virtues that true and advanced democracies have is tolerance. Democracy is not possible without readiness and a willingness to accept divergent opinions.

In fact, it is diversity of opinions that breathes life into democracy. We might not agree with the views of others but democracy dictates that we should let them express their opinions and respectfully agree or disagree with them.

But in Kenya, a country that passes itself as a democracy, each time people leaning towards the opposite political camp speak out on a pressing issue, their opponents react by hurling all manner of epithets at their perceived enemies. This is not right.

As Kenyans, we are one regardless of which political camp we support. Behaving as if we are sworn enemies only serves to divide the country. As a matter of fact the "us versus them" mentality is largely to blame for the high levels of negative ethnicity in our country.

None of us is immune to making mistakes. Whether we identify with the government or the opposition, chances are that we may still be wrong on some of the positions we take.

But we may also be right in our views on other issues. The views expressed by Raila on the credibility of the IEBC clearly resonates with the feelings of many Kenyans.

If the IEBC is to ever regain the trust it once enjoyed, it has to face the fact that many now doubt its neutrality, and work hard to restore its credibility.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "I desire that death find me ready and writing, or if it please Christ, praying and in tears." Francesco Petrarch, an Italian scholar died on his birthday, July 20, 1374.

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