3rd Jan: New IEBC Commissioners Ushered Into Office
The commissioners to replace to the outgoing electoral agency commissioners were finally nominated. Wafula Chebukati replaced Isaac Hassan as the Chair of the commission. Kenyans were given a chance to air their views on the suitability of the nominees for the positions before vetting by National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. Later on, Chebukati and the other commissioners were approved to lead the electoral agency. Administering oath of office to the new Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) team, Chief Justice David Maraga urged them to ensure credible polls as the country’s future and stability was in their hands.
9th Jan: Controversy on Use of a Manual Back-up system in the Elections Resolved After the debate on elections laws ended in acrimony in the lower House, the Senate conducted a public hearing on the said laws where various stakeholders submitted their views. Governors joined the electoral reforms debate, stating that they are opposed to any attempt to have a manual back up in the next elections.
On the other hand religious groups under the umbrella of Inter-Faith Council of Kenya supported the inclusion of a manual backup system in the forthcoming general elections in case technology fails. The position by the religious groups faced a backlash from politicians in the opposition stating partisanship on the side of religious groups.
The IEBC refuted claims that they are planning to use a manual system in the next election. The Commission revealed they are compiling biometric information of all voters such as fingerprints to use as a back-up in case of technology failure.
Jan 6th: The law on campaign finance suspended as IEBC awaits direction on party primaries management
The High Court suspended the implementation of a law requiring political aspirants to submit their campaign finance and management information to the electoral agency. The application was filed by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which complained that the requirement raises fundamental constitutional issues. Meanwhile, Treasury revealed it could be pressured to facilitate the electoral commission to fund party primaries to the tune of Sh3 billion ahead of the August General Election. However, actual allocation would be dependent on the number of political parties that approach IEBC for the services. The law authorizing the IEBC to manage political party primaries is not in place yet, though.
16th Jan: Second Mass Voter registration Kicks Off Countrywide
The second Mass Voter Registration kicked off countrywide, with the IEBC seeking to list six million Kenyans. The registration started with no hinderances reported. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga moved to the strongholds to mobilise their supporters to turn out in large numbers and enlist in readiness for the August elections.
President Uhuru Kenyatta asked electoral agency to trace and follow pastoralists to register them. To those without birth certificates, the President said that the administrators should write the youth letters in order to enable them to get IDs without being asked questions. Many youth don’t have these certificates but chiefs should ensure they get their IDs.
Transfer of registered voters will now be done at the constituency level and not at the ward level. The decision was made after a massive 700,000 registered voters applied for polling stations transfer in the previous mass voter registration conducted from February to March 2016. Pastoralists in Marsabit County have opposed this directive saying that the requirement infringes on voters' rights. Pastoralists may not be able to change polling stations as they keep moving in search of water and pasture for their livestock.
The need for voter education was underlined after it emerged that some old men from Tetu constituency in Nyeri County have kept away from the just-started massive voter registration, fearing that biometric voter registration (BVR) machines might expose their past crimes. Apart from Nyeri, the fear of BVR kits may be rife especially in areas where Kenyans are superstitious.
Even after reported low voter turnout the electoral agency has refused to use ID “waiting cards” for voter registration. The commission said that there is a potential for abuse and double registration if waiting cards were to be used. The IEBC warned politicians against forcing Kenyans to register as voters during the ongoing process. The commission asserted that it was unlawful for politicians to deny Kenyans their rights just because they are not registered as voters.
After the mass voter registration was announced, the Opposition called off the planned street demos to concentrate on rallying their supporters to register as voters. IEBC CEO later said that Kenya could be set for failure if politicians don’t build trust and rally Kenyans towards respecting institutions ahead of the General Election. He blamed politicians for the high level of mistrust about the electoral process in Kenya. He said politicians will always want to pursue short-cuts to realize their goals, even if it means breaking the law.
26th Jan: Katiba Institute Goes to Court over Gender Rule A civil society organization moved to court seeking an order to compel the IEBC to reject nomination lists of leaders for the posts of MPs and Senators if parties do not comply with the two thirds gender rule. In the case documents, Katiba Institute wants Political parties that are non-compliant with the two thirds gender constitutional requirement to be barred from participating in the elections of leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate.
27th Jan: Opposition Leaders Raise Voter registration Queries over: Shared IDs & Registration of Diaspora Voters Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka was outraged to find out his national identity card number had registered somebody else as a voter. The sharing of IDs between Kalonzo and Salome Wanjiru Njoroge was detected when he visited a voter registration centre at Wagberi Primary School in Wajir East constituency during his tour of Wajir County. An investigation was launched to establish how this had occurred. The commission confirmed that there are other cases of shared ID numbers in the voter’s register. Raila Odinga has been consistently asking IEBC to inspect the voter register to weed out what he alleges to be 1.5 million dead voters, who usually vote in every election.
Meanwhile, a rift emerged between the Opposition and the government on plans to register Kenyans in the diaspora as voters. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) demanded the suspension of the registration — expected to begin in February — saying the numbers could be used to manipulate the elections. The party’s Director of Elections Junet Mohammed asked IEBC to clarify the figures involved. Most Kenyans living abroad say they would like to vote by electronic means if a given chance to participate. A new survey conducted for the Kenya Diaspora Alliance shows that as many as eight in every ten people polled want to cast their ballots over the internet, in what could challenge Kenya’s future laws on voting.
Further, it has become apparent the cost of the General Election could go up significantly because of the legal requirement that results be transmitted electronically. The IEBC’s Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said the decision on what technology would be used in areas without adequate mobile phone coverage is yet to be made. He added that the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had asked the IEBC to prepare guidelines on how they would implement the requirement for technology in the registration and identification of voters and the transmission of results. IEBC is exploring the possibility of using satellite technology to support transmission of results, especially in areas where internet connectivity is low.
Elsewhere, foreign diplomats in Kenya called for a free and fair General Election in August. In a joint statement, 25 ambassadors and high commissioners said that mishandling the process is likely to trigger violence similar to 2007-2008 when a dispute between PNU presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki and ODM’s Raila Odinga almost drove the country into civil conflict.
2nd Dec: Government re-assures the independence of IEBC selection panel: The government through its spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said that the re-advertisement of the IEBC chair was an independent decision by the selection panel. He added that the panel is keen on selecting a person who shall enjoy the confidence of all Kenyans.
4th Dec: New elections laws jitters aspirants: Laws on fundraising and campaign financing by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) took effect causing worry among aspirants of various political positions. The rules bars all aspirants from contributing in Harambees from December 8.
Other provisions state that an aspirant in the next election ought to have campaign bank accounts and a team of authorized people who will manage the finances. On the other hand IEBC is in a dilemma on whether to implement the regulations since they are yet to be approved by Parliament.
4th Dec: A section of Jubilee MPs wants primaries coordinated from Nairobi: A section of Jubilee MPs suggested that Jubilee party nominations should be coordinated at the National level and not at the county levels. In their opinion, this would avert wrangles emerging from the primaries. Party primaries in Kenya are known to be chaotic and shambolic. This is usually the origin of many party fallouts.
6th Dec: Cooperate with IEBC for smooth elections: A section of Jubilee MPs accused Mr. Odinga of intimidating the electoral agency. In particular they took issue with the persistent claim that they plan to rig the August 8th elections. In preparation of August elections, a multi-agency security team shall be set up to avoid violence during after 2017 general elections. The agencies include the electoral commission, Director of Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the police.
The electoral Commission has gone ahead to order all politicians to pull down banners and billboards erected as campaign period hasn’t officially started. IEBC has warned politicians of heavy penalties as early campaigns equals to misconduct and violations of election laws. Early campaigns have put Kenya in a tensed mood since campaigns are always vicious in Kenya.
6th Dec: The election to cost Sh 30 billion: The August 8th general elections shall cost tax payers Ksh 30 billion. The IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba exudes confidence that the commission will account for each shilling allocated to them. The commission’s target is to have 22 million registered voters before the election. Currently there are only 15.8 million registered voters.
8th Dec: Panel needs time to select credible candidates: NCCK and KHRC appealed to Kenyans to give the panel ample time in order to select the suited candidates to fill the vacant positions in the electoral agency. In a court case regarding the interviews, the court ordered the IEBC selection panel to interview two candidates who had applied for the position of IEBC commissioners. The two candidates had not been shortlisted. Their inclusion into interviews comes after a Kenyan filed a case asking the court to halt the recruitment process until the panel reveals the criteria used in shortlisting the candidates for the interview. After a successful recruitment process the president handed over the nominees to Parliament for further vetting. Parliament is expected to debate the appointment of the nominees on January 17th, 2017.
9th Dec: Controversy over campaign finance rules: The Justice and Legal Affairs committee disagreed with the IEBC over the campaign financing rules. ODM moved to court to challenge the campaign finance rules. The party is asking the court to annul the IEBC Gazette notice on the rules. ODM argues that the rules are unconstitutional since Parliament hasn’t drafted regulations to implement the Campaign Finance Act.
14th Dec: Auditing of voters register: Clergymen asked IEBC to clarify on the dates they intend to conduct an audit on the voter register. The religious leaders said that mass voter registration ought to be preceded by the audit. In a rejoinder the electoral agency responded that the delayed audit was on course. The delay was caused by the tendering requirements where KPMG East Africa won the tender. It is worth to note that the opposition opposes KPMG’s capacity to audit the voter register citing the company’s inexperience in such a task. The audit was supposed to be completed on January 3 but the dates have been extended to February 17. The dates to hold political parties nominations were also reduced. The audit was commissioned after Cord claimed that the register contains ghost voters.
16th Dec: Political bickering dragging implementation of electoral laws: Political wrangling between CORD and Jubilee on election laws has put the electoral agency in a dilemma. Jubilee party went to the court challenging sections of the electoral laws. Jubilee remains keen on having a manual back up to compliment the biometric voter identification and electronic results transmission. CORD is adamant on retaining both processes as electronic, regardless. This contestation was witnessed in Parliament where the lower house engaged in a fist fight. The electoral laws were passed in both houses but the opposition isn’t satisfied.
19th Dec: Jubilee’s onslaught on donor funds: A group of Jubilee lawmakers demanded the IEBC tables the amount of money they have received from donors and the employees seconded to them by the donors. The demands came after President Kenyatta complained about donors giving too much money in order to influence the forthcoming general elections. So far Western donors have refuted the allegation of scheming to influence the next general election.
The NGO board went ahead to suspend the activities of International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which offers assistance to the IEBC and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for civic education. The suspension didn’t last long as it was overturned by the court.
8th Nov: Rumours of an Attempt by MPs to postpone next elections: According to media reports MPs were exploring the possibility to push the date for the next elections following the amendment of a law that has made it difficult for the electoral commission to meet deadlines ahead of the 2017 polls.
11th Nov: Jubilee and Cord officials disagree over draft election regulations: The ruling coalition and opposition leaders disagreed over the draft election regulations developed by the electoral body to guide next year’s polls. Cord officials said that they will not allow the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to buy election technology equipment if the regulations are not subjected to broad consultations.
16th Nov: Jubilee wants IEBC to fund its primaries: Jubilee Party wants the IEBC to finance the nomination of its candidates. The fear of fraud in party primaries has necessitated Jubilee Party to ask the Commission to help it in conducting their primaries. Naomi Shaban, Jubilee’s National Assembly Majority Deputy Leader also asserted that parties in Kenya are incapable of conducting free and fair primaries especially in their strongholds. Kenya has a history of carrying out shambolic party primaries.
On the other hand, the electoral agency said that it would not mind funding the party primaries if Parliament agreed to allocate resources for the polls. The commission is also developing guidelines for party nominations. But a section of IEBC top leadership is cautious about accepting the proposal to conduct political party nominations. This follows a warning that getting entrapped in internal party affairs may take away the momentum from the commission as an independent arbiter and erode public confidence in the outfit before the General Election in August. As Jubilee remains keen on its primary being conducted by IEBC, the Orange Democratic Movement maintained that it will use its elections board to conduct its primaries and not the national electoral agency, ODM National Elections Board.
20th Nov: Cord and Jubilee Party to be included in a case on tender for ballot papers: The electoral commission lost its bid to block Cord and Jubilee Party from being enjoined in a case where a South African printer contests the award of a tender to Al Ghurair. The Sh2.5 billion tender to print the next election’s ballot paper was awarded to Al Ghurair, a Dubai based firm. In enjoining the two coalitions Public Procurement Administrative Review Board chairman Paul Gicheru said that the coalitions have a right to participate in the case. IEBC had initially said that the two coalitions had no business engaging in the conflict between the two firms. CORD seeks to have the tender cancelled.
23rd Nov: Control Political Parties’ Expenditure: Senator Mong’are of Nyamira has chided the huge expenditure by political parties ahead of 2017 elections. The senator who announced his ambitions to become the President of Kenya filed an urgent suit to compel the Registrar of Political Parties to publicize the sources of funds received by registered political parties. Senator Mong’are also said that the registrar has not published the full list of political parties as the country heads into the election year. Neither has she made public details of how she has distributed money set aside in the budget to cater for operations of parties.
23rd Nov: Diaspora voting is unlikely due to insufficient of information: The Elections Observation Group pointed out that there is inadequate information on Kenyans living abroad. The information is key in preparing Kenyans in diaspora to vote in the 2017 elections. ELOG’s chairman said the available information is conflicting. For instance the number of total Kenyans in diaspora isn’t established. In addition, there isn’t clearly defined role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IEBC in the matter of diaspora voting. The inconsistencies cited by ELOG have led to Orange Democratic Movement’s objection of diaspora voting.
24th Nov: Corruption and tribalism prevents free and fair polls: Deep-rooted corruption, tribalism, opacity among institutions entrusted on elections stand on the way of free and fair elections in Kenya. A report by the National Crime Research Centre titled 'Election Crimes and Offences in Kenya' showed that corruption among politicians was highest at 33.8% in election matters followed by responsible institutions at 21.4 %. NCRC has recommended the conducting civic education: on voter registration, their rights and good leadership and maintenance of law and order. The institution proposed promotion of patriotism, national unity and stiff penalties for those who violate electoral laws and as the possible solutions to hindrances. NCRC also wants the prosecution and sentencing of electoral crimes and offences to be strengthened at the point of arrest, gathering of evidence, prosecution and sentencing with the Director of Public Prosecution and Judiciary playing a role.
24th Nov: No more quick degrees for politicians: President Kenyatta made it difficult for politician who are rushing to acquire quick degrees to meet the academic requirements for aspirants. President Kenyatta directed the Ministry of education to ensure that everyone meets the minimum admission requirements. In order to graduate one must attend their lessons and meet with lecturers. Politicians have been rushing to acquire a degree within the shortest time possible in order to run for office in the next election.
26th Nov: Selection panel temporarily stops enlistment of IEBC Chair: The failure of Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission to clear five shortlisted candidates for the position of Independent Election and Boundaries Commission led to the temporal stopping of their recruitment. The selection panel had to re-advertise the position after significant issues were raised on the first five shortlisted candidates.
30TH Nov: Roll out 3G Network Countrywide before elections date: Parliament directed the Communications Authority of Kenya to roll out a 3G network countrywide to be used in the 2017 elections, in a raft of proposals to right the many wrongs in the 2013 poll. Currently, only 17 per cent of the country is 3G enabled yet equipment for the August 8 elections will use the network to transmit scanned copies of results to constituency tallying centres.
New Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice selected Pending Parliamentary approval
After the Judicial Service Commission nominated Justice Maraga as the next Kenya’s Chief Justice, President Uhuru Kenyatta forwarded his name to the National Assembly for grilling, paving his way to become Kenya’s 15th Chief Justice. The Supreme Court which he shall head has the exclusive constitutional mandate to determine presidential election petitions.
Shortly afterwards, the Judicial Service Commission also nominated Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu for the position of Deputy Chief Justice. Justice Mwilu is a Court of Appeal judge. She has served in the Judiciary for 32 years.
IEBC select panel takes shape: As MPs resume duties from a short recess, they will establish the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Commissioners selection panel. The panel shall comprise five nominees from religious organisations and four from the Parliamentary Service Commission. Selection of a new polls team became necessary after the current team quit after allegations of corruption.
The list of persons in the IEBC recruiting panel was completed after Jubilee nominated lawyers Evans Monari and Mary Caren Kigen-Sorobit to the panel. Cord nominated Ogla Karani and Justice Tom Mbaluto. The four joined Rev Canon Peter Karanja (National Council of Churches of Kenya General), Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy (Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims), and Bernadette Musundi (Catholic Church).
Others are Bishop David Oginde who is representing the Evangelical Churches of Kenya and Ravindra Bhurma for the Hindu Council of Kenya. The Public Service Commission (PSC) will submit the names to the President, setting in motion the recruitment exercise.The IEBC is likely to get new commissioners by mid-December according to plans by the selection panel.
October 7: Stage set for hiring of new polls team: The IEBC selection team advertised a call for applications from qualified people to fill the vacant positions of IEBC Commissioners. The applicant’s names and their qualifications will be published in The Kenya Gazette, two newspapers and on the website of Parliament. The panel shall then consider, shortlist and interview the applicants in public. The panel shall then select two persons qualified for the position of chairman and nine as commissioners and forward these to the President, who will then nominate one person for chairman and six for members. The list of nominees will then be forwarded to the National Assembly.
Jitters about the 2017 Election Plans, Voter Register Audit and Voter Registration: State House assured Kenyans that the government is on top of things with regard to the 2017 general elections. The assurance followed concerns raised by the civil society and the opposition on the ability of the government to meet the electoral timelines. The worries are aggravated by the fact that the Electoral Commission commissioners are yet to be nominated.
Also of concern is that, the IEBC may be forced into direct procurement of election materials worth billions of shillings to meet the tight timelines as set out in the law. Should procurement timelines be adhered to, the IEBC will overshoot the deadline by 10 days. According to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, any Kenyan could go to court to stop the process on the grounds of violating the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, which takes precedence over the new Elections (Amendment) Act, with the former providing for open tendering.
Additionally, the Centre for Multi-party Democracy, a civil society group raised red flags over a section of electoral laws prone to abuse by political players. With less than a year to the General Election, the group raised concerns about the loopholes in some of the laws and wants the IEBC to prioritize crafting guidelines for their implementation.
Further, the opposition Cord spoke against hastened auditing of the voter’s register. The opposition says that the old Commissioners must leave office to the new team to conduct the auditing. Senator James Orengo who was in the Joint Select team expressed fears of deliberate intentions to water down the degree of audit the team agreed upon.
On the other hand, the Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi demanded that the voter register be audited. Mudavadi further said the country should utilise data lying at the Registrar of Persons offices, as the move will save the country of billions of shillings.
Furthermore, the ODM opposition party claimed that the government is secretly collaborating with the electoral body to register voters in government political strongholds. Opposition mentioned the Ministry of interior Security, Huduma Centres and the National Registration Bureau to be largely involved in the alleged secret plan. However, the electoral body refuted the claims as false and insisted that it is ensuring that all unregistered eligible voters are registered nationwide.
Elsewhere, a research conducted by Afro- Barometer revealed that, only 26 per cent of Kenyans have faith that votes are fairly counted during elections. According to the research majority of Kenyans are concerned about the fairness of vote counts, corruption during elections, and the safety of voters during campaigns and at the polls.
Academic Qualifications relief for Aspirants in 2017: Aspirants for seats in Parliament and county assemblies will not be required to be degree holders. The requirement has been replaced by at least a certificate earned after secondary education. Only those who did not pursue any education beyond secondary school will be locked out of Parliament or the 47 county assemblies.
At the same time, concerns about Kenyans being over-represented has emerged in public debates. The debate was rekindled by a team led by the Auditor General which suggested a reduction of MPs and MCAs, in order to slash government spending.
Rise of Political Gangs in the Run-Up to 2017: A sudden rise of politically motivated violence and the resurgence of criminal gangs is raising concern about the country’s state of security months to the 2017 General Election. More politicians could be recruiting gangs under the cover of rowdy supporters. This brings the fear of the repeat of 2007. In Kisumu, for instance, police had to fire in the air after youth stormed the County Assembly to stop what they said was a secret impeachment plan against Governor Jack Ranguma. In Murang’a , rival groups — one, with well-built members clad in black suits — clashed over the opening of parallel Jubilee Party offices in Kandara. In Dandora residents say a new gang known as “Sila” is increasingly being used by politicians. In Western Kenya, there is a resurgence of Marachi Republican Council, Mossad, Bulanda Boys and the Men in Black. In Mombasa there is Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao gangs. ODM rewards registered party members: ODM embarked on a massive voter mobilisation and dishing out cash to the newly registered members. In the plan, wards with the highest number of registered party members will be rewarded with Sh1 million. To set the pace, Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma donated Sh1 million to be given to the ODM ward office with highest number of registered voters. The cheque was presented to Mombasa governor and ODM deputy party leader, Hassan Joho, at the Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) in Kisumu town. The mobilisation comes at a time when the National Registration Bureau has reported that over 60,000 ID cards have not been collected from various registration bureaus across former Nyanza province.
Kenya scales the charts on governance despite corruption challenge: A Mo Ibrahim Foundation report has shown that Kenya has improved in governance over the past 10 years. Kenya is ranked 12th out of 54 countries in overall governance, with a score of 59 per cent, a 5.1 improvement.
These findings are startling given Kenyan’s reluctance to prosecute leaders implicated in corruption. A case in point is the fact that the IEBC commissioners exit office without a word from the Director Public Prosecutions. This is even after he received a file from The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the “Chicken gate” scandal. In the file, recommendations for prosecutions were made on the former CEO and three other junior officials at the IEBC. The same file exonerated officials who were largely mentioned in a London case which secured convictions. In fact, the commissioners signed a deal to vacate after they were given sizeable send-off package.
8th August: Political Parties and Politicians alignments in Preparation for elections.
Nine parties announced plans to merge and form Jubilee Party. President Kenyatta will use the new party in seeking for a second term. The plan for the party was unveiled in state house. The nine parties have already written to the registrar of parties asking for their dissolution. The party will hold a National delegates Convention on Tuesday, 9th September 2016 at Kasarani Arena, between 2pm and 7pm where delegates will consider and ratify this decision.
Opposition MPs accused our Jubilee of using tax-payers money in running its affairs. They further claimed that leaders from smaller parties were bribed to join the merger. The MPs who included Senator James Orengo, Homa Bay County Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, and MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Joseph Oyugi Magwanga of Kasipul challenged Jubilee to prove them otherwise.
Nevertheless, rumours emerged that Raila Odinga, the leader of opposition is also planning for a merger that will counter Jubilee in the next election. According to media reports Odinga is warming up to other five parties. The five parties that are likely to be woed into the merger are Wiper Democratic Movement, KANU, Amani National Congress, NARC and NARC Kenya. It is not certain whether the merger shall retain the name CORD. If Mr. Odinga is endorsed to vie for the Presidency he shall be doing it for the fourth time.
According to the Registrar of Parties, only four parties have been registered since the last election. The parties are Amani National Congress, Citizen Convention Party, United Democratic Party and Double Double Alliance. This brings the number of political parties in Kenya to 64. To register a political party, it must have 1000 registered members in at least 24 counties and physical offices therein. The party must also pay Ksh 500,000.
Further, many members of the County Assembly are rushing for diplomas and degrees for fear of being locked out in 2017 general elections. Currently, there is a proposed bill that requires them to be degree holders. Those who will fail to reach the required threshold will be locked out. In the entire country, there has been calls to have more educated representatives especially at the county level due to the work of oversight that is expected of them.
Furthermore, a clan in Mandera County has embraced negotiated democracy. This type of rotational democracy is meant to avoid dominance by the powerful and well populated clans. The model which will be applied in 2017 elections will send home all elected leaders in the county to give chance to leaders from other clans.
17th August: Appointment of a New Electoral Commission Expected by End of September
A seven member electoral commission is expected to be recruited by the end of September. The joint parliamentary select committee had a 30 days deadline within which to agree on electoral reforms expected before the 2017 general election. After lengthy deliberations the bi-partisan committee agreed on a formula to have the current IEBC commissioners exit and the recruit another commission.
When the current electoral commissioners appeared before a joint parliamentary select committee they chose to avoid questions on corruption allegations made against them. However, after brief private consultations, the group, led by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Issack Hassan, agreed to submit a written memorandum on allegations facing individual members of the commission and secretariat.
Further, the commissioners opposed the creation of a new voter register citing that it would be time-consuming and costly. The commissioners offered to quit the commission if they were paid their full salaries plus allowances until the end of their term. The commissioners also warned the committee against any recommendations that would find them guilty since they would fight for their innocence thereby delaying the much needed reforms.
Meanwhile, the Attorney General Githu Muigai proposed a team be formed to determine the amount to be paid to the exiting IEBC commissioners for the period remaining in their tenure. The Attorney General’s proposal came as the President received the concluded report on IEBC reforms.
A series of phone calls to the major coalitions’ leaders led to a breakthrough in the team discussing electoral reforms. Both Jubilee and Cord leaders had to make concessions from the positions they had taken in their previous grandstanding. Cord gave in to Jubilee’s Coalition’s position that the next IEBC team cannot be nominated by political parties. Instead, members of the committee were reported to have agreed that the next commission will be recruited by a panel of nine.
The panel will have one member each from the Catholic Church, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the Hindu Council and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, with the Parliamentary Service Commission nominating two members who are not legislators. Like in the previous recruitment, the Public Service Commission will provide the secretariat - the support staff for the recruitment panel.
Jubilee dropped its position on having no changes to the Constitution but maintained that the period for the determination of a presidential election petition would be kept at the current 14 days stated in the Constitution.
The team conducting talks on electoral reforms sought a one year extension to supervise the implementation of its recommendations. The team presented their proposal to a joint House leadership meeting but it was not approved. The final electoral reforms report was tabled on 23rd August, both the President and Opposition leader accepted the proposals put forward and promised their full support in the implementation of the proposals. According to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee the new IEBC commissioners ought to be in the office by 30th September 2016.
15th Aug: Kanu calls for a forensic audit on the voters register
Elsewhere, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party officials called for a hastened forensic audit on voter register, failure to which they threatened their party won’t participate in 2017 general elections. The party further claimed that the ruling coalition is planning to use the old register to rig 2017 elections.
In another place, six MPs from the old Nyanza province echoed KANU and demanded for a new voter register. They claimed that the current register contains names of dead people and under-age who aren’t supposed to vote. The MPs who comprised John Mbadi (Suba), Mr Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Mr Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) Mr Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Mr Fred Outa (Nyando) rubbished the proposal to have a forensic audit on the register in favour of a new voter register.
18th Aug: Opposition leader wants to be consulted in appointment of IEBC commissioners
Furthermore, the Opposition tabled a proposal that seeks to scrap the role of the President in appointment of electoral commissioners. They claimed that, President Kenyatta may have a bias since he is a participant in the next election. The Opposition leader Raila Odinga further claimed that if the President is appoint the commissioners he should be consulted. The procedure of appointing the commissioners was one of the grievances that led CORD to the streets. In the protests CORD held that IEBC commissioners must be nominated by political parties.
11th August: IEBC Continues Election Planning including Capping Campaigns Expenditure In mid-August, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published an international tender for the supply of ballot papers and poll registers, in preparation for next year’s General Election. Submission of bids for the approximated sh3.9 billion tender were expected by 7th September 2016. The tender coincided with the looming change of guard in the commission. There are also a number of other big tenders, such as the procurement of electronic voter identification gadgets and results transmission kits. The massive failure of technology in the 2013 election was linked to late procurement of gadgets.
Meanwhile, the IEBC mapped 17 Counties with a possibility high conflict incidence. The Electoral risk map cites Tana River, Lamu, Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, Nandi, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori counties. The conflict take the following forms: cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist. The analysis on threats of insecurity to the electoral process in Kenya also show Turkana, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kilifi counties as having an average number of incidents of conflicts. Counties with low number of incidents include Kitui, Kajiado, Makueni, Taita-Taveta and Embu.
The electoral commission also issued new campaign finance rules limiting spending by political parties, party contributors and aspirants during the 2017 electioneering period beginning in February 2017. IEBC has put a sh5.2 billion spending cap on presidential candidates, Members of Parliament Sh33 million, and governors, senators and woman representatives at Sh432 million. Members of County Assembly have a ceiling of Ksh10.3 million in some wards. The rules have also set ceilings on political parties expenditure at Sh15 billion and single-source contributors to political parties to Sh3 billion.
We covered this issue in our blog. Read it here.
29th: Party-hopping and Kenyan MPs
The riotous nature of Kenya’s democracy can be credited to the bad culture of party hopping. Kenya’s political marketplace has been deprived of ideals due to the quick way than one can switch loyalty from one party to another, in the language of our politicians “there are mere vehicles” for an ego trip. On the other hand parties are managed like tuck shops by one man and for one man.
An attempt by the Joint Committee on Electoral Reforms to reign in Party-hopping stirred heated debate in the National Assembly when their report was tabled. Parliamentarians from across the political divide were uncomfortable with the proposal curbing party hopping. The specific provision reads, “After the names of candidates are forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a candidate who changes their party shall not be eligible to contest in an election as a candidate of the new party or as an independent candidate.” The argument by the MPs was that the provision violates article 36 of the constitution which on freedom of association. To them, this was synonymous to making parties tyrannical.
However, Parliament was not able to edit out the party hopping clause as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga were in consensus over the issue.
We analyzed the party hopping issue in our blog. Read it here
The Joint Committee on Electoral Reforms is formed
The bipartisan team on Electoral Reforms co-chaired by Senator Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo held its house-keeping meeting five days after its formation. The motion to legally mandate the joint committee on electoral reforms was passed in Parliament on 4th of July. The committee is expected to come up with a raft of reforms that will ensure 2017 elections are conducted in a free and fair environment. The proposed committee is bipartisan and enjoys full support from both sides of the political divide.
6th July: The appointment of the team was delayed over disagreements on a parallel process started by the National Assembly’s Justice and legal Affairs Committee (JLAC). On 15th July, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – the largest party in CORD threatened to resume protests over lack of what they termed as genuine talks on electoral reforms. CORD fears that the legal committee may duplicate the supposed job of the bi-partisan committee, particularly, if it recommends the removal of the IEBC commissioners as it would make the joint committee pointless. Cord accused the Jubilee ruling coalition of in-subordinating the bi-partisan committee by allowing JLAC to continue its business as usual.
The JLAC drafted the IEBC (Amendment) Bill that gives political parties a say in appointment of IEBC Commissioners in future. The Samuel Chepkonga (URP) led JLAC team also started considering a petition on the removal of IEBC commissioners presented by Barasa Nyukuri and is expected to table a report.
The two sides have differed on whether the bi-partisan committee on electoral reforms should investigate the commissioners conduct afresh or use the already available information. The dissonance first surfaced as Parliament awaited to debate the motion to establish the joint Committee to decide on IEBC reforms. Cord maintains that IEBC has lost its credibility while Jubilee insists on following the due process in dealing with the team.
On 25th – 26th July, The negotiated bipartisan committee received public views at County Hall in Nairobi and is expected to table its report in Parliament within 25 days.
12th July: Poll showed Public confidence in IEBC dropped
In the intervening time, an opinion poll conducted by Synovate revealed Kenyans’ confidence in the ability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct 2017 elections has dropped over the last seven months from 40 per cent last November to 34 per cent in June 2016. The findings show that both Jubilee and Cord supporters have gradually lost confidence in the embattled electoral body over the period.
For instance, among Jubilee supporters, confidence in the electoral body waned from 63 per cent in November last year to 57 per cent last month. Among Cord supporters, the confidence level is at an all-time low of seven per cent, down from 15 per cent seven months ago. The poll was conducted between June 4 and June 18 at the height of protest rallies called by Cord leaders to push for the removal of IEBC commissioners.
Furthermore, reports emerged that 10 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff resigned in June. The staff included returning officers who left possibly due to the tension and uncertainty that the body has been subjected to. There is also a proposal to have the body’s staff vetted for viability which might cause jitters. The commissioners were also said to be negotiating their exit.
IEBC commissioners told a parliamentary committee they are ready to leave office as the perception towards them is so negative. The commissioners said that it will be difficult for them to oversee the next election. The commissioners said that they are ready for a negotiated exit or removal through due process. During the emotive proceedings one commissioner wiped tears from his eyes as he described the price he will pay due to the unfounded accusations against him.
On 19th July, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) discharged electoral chairman Isaack Hassan from corruption allegations in the Chickengate scandal. In relation to the same scandal, the anti-graft body found evidence of criminal culpability against four people -James Oswago, Trevy Oyombra, Hamida Ali Kibwana and Kenneth Karani. On March 8 this year Hassan was questioned on the scandal where he defended his innocence.
Meanwhile, the former IEBC Chief Executive Officer, James Oswago has accused EACC of using him as a scapegoat in the ‘Chickengate’ scandal. Oswago said that the investigations on the scandal were conducted selectively.
15th July - Auditor-General’s report on IEBC discredited and petition against commissioners defeated
The opposition remained opposed to the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal affairs Committee’s (JLAC) continued parallel process to address electoral reforms especially their plan to table a report after the scrutiny of Barasa Nyukuri’s petition. Shortly after the petition’s scrutiny started information cited from the Auditor General’s report was discredited by a Canadian diplomat Tim Colby and the IEBC chairman who sought a court order, seemingly giving credence to the opposition’s claims about the need for to investigate the commissioners afresh.
Both submissions attacked the credibility of the Auditor-General’s report, which was the main plank of the petition and the basis for the possible finding that the chairman and the eight commissioners were incompetent. Colby highlighted 21 points in the report where the Office of the Auditor-General made mistakes by failing to interview those mentioned, such as the Attorney-General, the main negotiator; wrongly compared costs and alleged failure to investigate concerns. On the other hand, the IEBC chair sued the Auditor-General on the basis that his side of the story wasn’t sought before the report indicting him was finished and submitted to Parliament.
The House Business committee froze debate on the report that cleared the electoral commissioners. This halted, for some time though, the debate over which of the two parallel committees of the House should spearhead electoral reforms. The suspension of the debate eased the conflict between the bipartisan joint Committee and the JLAC. The report shall be debated when the joint committee finishes its work.
Even so, speaking in a public lecture at Strathmore University, the IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba warned that delays in deciding the fate of the IEBC may have a negative effect in preparations of 2017 elections. Chiloba said that fundamental issues concerning the body should be decided upon to avert a crisis.
25th – 26th July: Public submissions regarding the IEBC
Submitting its views, the Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman Office), stated that commissioners of the IEBC commissioners should be paid their full benefits if they agree to leave voluntarily. Chairman Otiende Amollo said the joint select committee on electoral reforms should make that offer to the commissioners. Omollo also rubbished the claim that picking a new IEBC team close to elections is hazardous.
In addition, the Ombudsman said the IEBC should be reconstituted to include four non-Kenyans. In a submission to the joint select committee on electoral reforms he asserted that a foreigner should chair the commission in order to “cure the present geo-politics and mistrust”. He added that foreigners will inspire public confidence and objectivity.
Addressing the media at Ufungamano House, religious leaders proposed the vetting of all IEBC senior staff. In addition, they warned that the rivalry between the National Assembly's JLAC and the joint parliamentary committee could derail efforts to correct Kenya's electoral system. They also warned against charging the election date.
Clerics proposed to have election results for all seats announced at the constituency level to be final as one way of taming rigging. They also proposed the number of electoral commissioners be reduced to five, and work on a part-time basis. Clerics working under the auspices of Multi-Sectoral Forum with civil society organisations’ drafted two Bills - the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill and Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill - to effect a wide range of changes on electoral reforms before the next polls. The two bills were presented to the joint committee on electoral reforms. The team also wants electronic results to be considered while announcing the final outcome. In case of a presidential election petition, the team has proposed that the time be extended from 14 to 30 days. The team also wants voter register inspection extended from 14 to 30 days.
In his submission, the Attorney General said that IEBC commissioners should be persuaded to quit in public interest. AG told the joint committee on electoral reforms that compensation should be regarded if the commissioners win a court battle for dismissal pay after voluntarily leaving office. On the other hand, the AG cautioned the committee against dismissing secretariat. The AG’s opinion was sought to in on the issues of balancing national interests and rights of the affected IEBC officers.
Will a workable solution to the electoral crisis be arrived at in time to adequately prepare for the election?
After intense lobbying by members of the clergy and diplomats, opposition leaders softened their hard stance and called off their weekly demonstrations in favour of dialogue. The two main Coalitions- Jubilee and Cord who are antagonists in the IEBC debate agreed to form a team to iron out the electoral contentious issues before they are discussed in Parliament.
1st June: Parliament reduced the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) budget by Ksh 450 Million. The Chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Hon Chepkonga stated that the reduction will not impact on the Commission’s preparations for 2017 General Elections.
2nd June: Cord named a five member team to engage Jubilee in talks to disband IEBC. Cord team comprised Senator James Orengo, Senator Johnson Muthama, Hon Eseli Simiyu, Hon Mishi Mboko and Hon Abdikadir Aden. The team was named despite President Kenyatta denying any agreement between him and Mr. Odinga to have such a team to solve the IEBC conundrum. At the same time, Amani National Congress leader Mr. Musalia Mudavadi warned that “gentleman’s agreement’ between politicians will not solve the electoral commission’s stalemate.
3rd June: A bill to give political parties a voice in appointing commissioners of the electoral body was prepared by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and taken to the government printer. Another bill that seeks to increase the period set by the Constitution to determine a presidential election petition from 14 days to 30 days was also tabled.
4th June: During the National Prayer Breakfast religious leaders led by National Council of Churches of Kenya General Secretary Rev Canon Peter Karanja, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops – Bishop Alfred Rotich and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary General Adan Wachu pleaded with politicians to give dialogue a chance. The members of the clergy vowed to soldier on with the mediation path until an amicable solution is found.
8th June: The Cabinet Secretary for Interior Security banned opposition demonstrations. In a quick rejoinder the opposition chiefs rubbished the ban and vowed to continue with the protests until IEBC is reconstituted. To add salt into injury the opposition increased the number of protest days from once per week to twice per week.
8th June: The United Kingdom advised its citizens visiting Kenya to be vigilant due to the ongoing wave of opposition protests. The advisory note stated that more protests are planned in other cities in the coming months. The advisory may hurt Kenya’s tourism sector.
13th June: The electoral body got set to upgrade its systems so as to make transmissions of the 2017 poll results efficient. The Commission has invited companies’ to bid for the upgrade of its results management system and data centre. The upgrade is estimated to cost Ksh 250 million. When in place the new system is expected to ensure that the voter register and elections results are secure and readily available for retrieval.
23rd June: The opposition Cord and the ruling Jubilee coalition ceded ground and agreed to form a team to steer dialogue on the IEBC stalemate. The 14 members select team is supposed to come up with recommendations that will ensure 2017 elections are free and fair. A motion to be tabled in Parliament will give the team the legal mandate to:
i) Recommend legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC),
ii)Improve the electoral system and process so as to ensure the August 2017 elections are free and fair; and
iii) Ensure the elections are administered in an impartial, efficient, simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent manner.
Demos by the opposition Cord were at their peak. In the street protests, three people were shot dead in Kisumu and Siaya. Opposition was adamant dialogue on IEBC reforms could not be brokered within Parliament under the standing orders.
4th May: The Council of Governors stated that the IEBC needed to be a commission that meets the satisfaction of everyone.
4th May: The Methodist Church led by its presiding Bishop Joseph N’tobura distanced the Church from the NCCK stand on disbandment of IEBC. The Bishop in his statement claimed that the stand is wrong and misguided and that IEBC can only be disbanded through constitutional means.
6th May: IEBC Commissioners dared CORD leaders to table evidence that they have an agreement with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee to rig the 2017 elections. If such evidence is tabled the commissioners said they would resign immediately. The IEBC officials accused the opposition leaders of character assassination and peddling falsehoods.
8th May: Parliament offered to solve the IEBC conundrum. A proposal tabled by Hon Samuel Chepkonga proposed to have a joint sitting of both the National Assembly and Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committees. The joint committee was to have hearings from all the stakeholders and produce a report within 90 days. To boost Chepkonga’s proposal a bipartisan caucus of 50 MPs led by Hon. Kabando wa Kabando and Hon. David Ochieng wanted all stakeholders to clarify the issues that need to be resolved before 2017. The caucus sought to draw up comprehensive proposals on legal and institutional reforms aimed at preparing the country for peaceful, transparent and credible elections.
10th May: Diplomats representing various donor countries – US Robert Godec, UK Nic Hailey, Australia John Feakes, Belgium Roxane de Bilderling, Canada David Angell, Denmarks Mette Knudish, France Remi Marechaux, Germany Jutta Frasch, Norway Victor Ronneberg, Netherlands Frans Makken, Sweden Johan Borgstam and Head of EU delegation Stefano-Antonio Dejak – countries spoke out and condemned opposition protests and lobbied for dialogue to avoid chaos in 2017 elections. In a statement, the envoys stated, “Violence will not resolve the issues regarding the future of IEBC or ensure the 2017 elections are free and fair.” These diplomats reacted after police and protesters clashed leaving three dead and several injured.
13th May: Kenya African National Union (KANU) party joined CORD in their agitation to have the IEBC disbanded. KANU is one of the political parties that have scores to settle with IEBC since their loss in Kericho Senatorial by-elections.
13th May: Parliament questioned the IEBC’s request for Sh45 billion to conduct 2017 general elections. The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee evoked questions raised by the Public Accounts Committee when auditing the procurement of electronic equipment used in the 2013 general elections. The Commission was asked to clear the integrity questions raised by PAC before their budget could be approved. The commissioners were supposed to answer questions on the BVR tender and irregular payments amounting to sh258 million.
15th May: The president met senior Jubilee Members of Parliament in State House to discuss the IEBC stalemate. In the meeting were majority leaders of both houses. After the meeting, their hard stance of having a parliamentary led dialogue was cemented. Their position remained that, IEBC commissioners shall not be sent home unless by law.
29th May: Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi re-stated that IEBC reforms can only be initiated through Parliament. He emphasized that the Constitution ought to be adhered to. He pleaded with CORD leaders who are scared of Jubilee’s numbers in Parliament that the House has goodwill in reforming IEBC.
Analysis: In the continued hullabaloo on IEBC, no particular group that has come up with substantive enforceable reforms. The dominant talk in the political market is on the resignation of the IEBC commissioners. In all fairness, change of individuals at the helm of an institution doesn’t amount to electoral reforms.
The opposition CORD isn’t so clear on what it wants whereas the ruling party appears unclear on what to do with IEBC. The entire debate has been reduced to a playground of power play and meaningless political bickering.
Lack of leadership and consensus has resulted to weekly protests that bring the capital into a stand still. Away from the capital, protests have been held in opposition strongholds mostly in Luo Nyanza where the police has unleashed brutality in dispersing rowdy protesters (Police brutality is a no but so is a reckless protest). In Kisumu and Siaya, three people have lost their lives so far.
IEBC Credibility in Question:
The month saw a number of players question the IEBC’s credibility. The lead has been the CORD coalition following the rejection of the Okoa Kenya signatures. The Opposition has harboured a grievance against the IEBC since 2013 Supreme Court decision about the contested Presidency and now calls for disbandment of the Commission.
9th April: The Catholic bishops, the Chief Justice and Civil Society Organizations warned of violence in the next election unless the government does ‘something radical.’
21st April: The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) also pointed out the IEBC credibility is in doubt as it has not put in place the necessary reforms to hold a credible election. Public confidence in the IEBC is at an all-time low at 28 per cent.
23rd April: The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) joined the bandwagon pushing for the reconstruction of the IEBC in the lead up to the Elections to inspire public confidence. The church body also called for a new Supreme Court and public testing of all electronic equipment to be used in the polls.
25th April: The Law Society of Kenya also joined calls for the disbandment and reconstitution of the IEBC and in particular asked the Chair Isaack Hassan to step aside from his position as corruption investigations remain pending. The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) also pushed for the same.
On the same day, CORD led their supporters to IEBC headquarters seeking to eject the officials from office, however their attempts were thwarted by heavy police presence and use of tear gas.
Given the prevailing doubts about the integrity, impartiality and capacity of the IEBC to run free and fair elections, will the institution be reconstituted in time for the 2017 elections?