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IEBC ensured credible, transparent poll

Predictably, the 2017 General Election will go down in history as one of the most complex electioneering processes in Kenya.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was smack in the middle of the blistering heat of rising political temperatures fanned by an array of accusations and counter-accusations arising from political competition.

Amidst all that, the commission stayed level-headed and steadfast to deliver free, fair and credible elections.

Our role has often been misconstrued. While our core agenda was to ensure that the infrastructure would support and deliver a credible election process, it was not easy to detach from the realities of the highly-polarised political propaganda.

In January 2016, the commission launched the Elections Operations Plan.

CREDIBLE ELECTION

This plan provided a roadmap to a free, fair and credible election. Despite the challenges, the commission scored exceptionally well on each key milestone.

The register of voters increased by 35 per cent, from 14.4 million voters to 19.6 million voters with 51 per cent under 35 years old.

We expect that given the turnout of 77 per cent, a significant number of youths participated in the elections.

Listening to many Kenyans after the elections, the experience with technology this time round earned their confidence in the electoral process.

There is no doubt that with the successful adoption of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System, the country has set a high bar for the rest of the continent.

If we sustain this success, we shall forever command the respect of many electoral management bodies around the world.

WAR OPERATION

The magnitude of the just-concluded elections was akin to a war operation.

The logistics of moving and securing electoral materials, the recruitment, training and deployment of election officials across the country was no mean task.

Over 360,000 officials were deployed in addition to thousands of security officers and hundreds of staff deployed by tech-companies supporting the process from different parts of the world.

This required unparalleled coordination at different levels. However, it is the professionalism and commitment of the different teams that ensured that we succeeded.

The commission had to go through legal battles for almost a year. Two court decisions defined the 2017 General Election.

BALLOT PAPER

The first was the ballot paper case. Nothing exemplifies readiness for an election than the certainty on the availability of ballot papers.

The commission battled seven cases on the ballot paper procurement from November 2016 to July 2017.

Unless set aside, the Court of Appeal decision on the ballot paper provided clarity on public procurement that will benefit the rest of the public sector.

The second case was on the declaration of presidential results. This decision had far-reaching implications on tallying, collation and declaration of the 2017 Presidential Election.

The Court of Appeal underscored the point that the polling station is the locus where the will of the people is expressed and such cannot be interfered with.

The court further stated that once the presidential results have been collated at the constituency level, those results are final.

FORM 34C

With respect to the National Tallying Centre, the role of the Commission was to collate the final results from the 290 constituencies and generate Form 34C which is the basis of the final declaration of the presidential results. In doing so, the commission cannot vary the constituency results in any way.

The commission remained aligned to the Court of Appeal decision.

I, personally, believe that we have made progress in our electoral management, particularly the infrastructure. 

In the days ahead, we expect to receive many post-election reports from different stakeholders.

STRUCTURAL CHALLENGES

We have learnt sufficient lessons to enable us continuously improve the management of our elections.

In the meantime, we still have more structural challenges to address in our political system if we have to build a truly democratic country.

We have to think about building a more inclusive society, creating more economic opportunities, nurturing resilient institutions and espousing our national values.

These are beyond elections management and demand the involvement of everyone.

Chiloba is the CEO of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission

We have every reason to hold on to our sense of nationhood

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