Elections all over the world are a fundamental celebration of human rights as enshrined in our Bill of Rights. However, the irony in Kenyan elections is that every electoral cycle since the advent of multi-partism has been characterized by loss of lives, violence, property and displacement of people. Rather than being a celebration, some Kenyans dread it for the same reasons mentioned. And the 2017 elections were no different.
As a leading domestic election observation platform, ELOG has consistently observed elections beginning with the 2010 referendum, 2013 and 2017 elections, culminating into our reports, The People’s Verdict (2010), The Historic Vote (2013) and One Country, Two Elections, Many Voices (2017). Similarly, in 2014, ELOG together with 14 other civil society organizations created a platform, called Technical Working Group (TWG) on Elections. The TWG on elections has produced two consolidated reports, From Pillar to Post (2014) and Points Taken (2018).
These reports have not only identified major gaps in the electoral processes but also proposed practical recommendations on what can be done to improve them so that the vision of a free, fair, peaceful and credible elections can be realized in Kenya.
Part of reason that our electoral processes have continued to be problematic is consistent deficiency in trust and political will. The ‘handshake’ between the President and the Opposition leader has provided the country with somewhat a conducive environment for a sober discussion on what continues to ail our electoral processes. As history tells us, major reforms have been made possible when the country enjoys relative calmness (a new Constitution, IPPG model etc). The time is now… very soon the country will be thrown into emotive mood when discussions on boundary review starts and a possible referendum in the air
The realization of electoral reforms in Kenya is the responsibility of everyone in this room today. We all have something we can do. Let us grab the opportunity that the political calmness has brought forth to not only champion these reforms but equally implement them. Very soon, the country will be going through census, boundary delimitation/review and a possible referendum. All these have the potential of spiking the environment making us loose in sobriety.
ELOG plans to create more platforms like this with targeted stakeholders to track the electoral reforms processes in the country as well as to continuously monitor and observe all the activities in each of the phases of the new electoral cycle.
Thank you all for coming here today and let us have honest conversation on how we can make elections in Kenya truly a celebration of fundamental political and civil rights that our ancestors shed their lives for.
ELOG APP Co-convener and Chair, FIDA-Kenya