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IEBC should have followed script in presidential polls

The much anticipated General Election has come and gone.

Life now returns to normalcy after months of troublesome gestation and days of painful delivery.

It is easy to say it is all over, but the painful days of delivery holds much for Kenyans to chew and digest.

TENSION
Post-election messages from different quarters are pouring in to help Kenyans to move on.

I think it is also vitally crucial for Kenyans to have a serious look at the tensions that characterised the presidential result.

This is primary for real peace, unity and institutional trust to deepen.

I am a Nigerian and I must confess I had never keenly followed any election, even back in Nigeria, the way I followed the unfolding story of the 2017 Kenyan election.

COURT CASES

As a non-partisan Catholic priest and foreigner, I had followed the sequence of events objectively.

I wish to chip in some points to boost recovery from the pains of delivery.

Clearly, Kenyans commendably came out to vote peacefully.

The months leading up to the election saw a litany of court cases aimed at ensuring that the IEBC conducted the election in a credible, free, fair and transparent manner.

IEBC

Informed by past elections, stakeholders in the election made sure that a clear, clean and level playing ground was set for all players so that the outcome would be clear and acceptable to all. 

IEBC seemed to have failed to live up to this expectation in the manner the institution managed the process that gave birth to the presidential result.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati did say while declaring the result that they had learnt lessons.

Perhaps Kenyans need to know what the lessons are.

INTEGRITY

Election is a process that involves sets of sequential activities.

Instead of starting from A to get to Z, IEBC seemed to have started from Z to get to A.

This, in my view, was the core of the concerns raised by the Nasa coalition heightened by allegations of the raid and other direct and indirect manipulations.

This reversed process in all sense of sanity fundamentally flawed the entire process and cast a dark shadow of doubt and great mistrust on IEBC as an institution and the result so produced — even if the presidential result was not at all doctored.

And why rush to declare result when the reversed Z to A process was still ongoing?

DUE PROCESS
It is baffling why IEBC would go against a process that is so clearly stipulated in the Constitution.

Was it out of ignorance? Was it out of inexperience, given that they were novices on the job?

Forms 34A from polling stations give rise to Forms 34B at the constituencies.

At Bomas, IEBC was to do just one thing: add up figures as on Forms 34B to fill in Form 34C and declare the result in line with other constitutional requirements.

IEBC did not follow this process and as such woefully failed itself and the nation at large and indeed affirmed the cries of lack of integrity that had trailed its footsteps for months.

DIVISIVENESS
Observers have all given IEBC a clean bill of health based on what was observed — from the periphery of the process.

“No election is 100 percent free and fair” is a false truth meant to condone some inexcusable mess.

This heart of the election ache could not have been seen from the periphery by mere observers who did not have a comprehensive understanding of the inner operations of IEBC. 

The mystery and questions surrounding this presidential election has indeed polarised Kenyans.

It is worse if the anger is not vented — Bishop Alfred Rotich of Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops stated the need to process the feelings arising from the results at a press conference last Saturday.

PEACE AND JUSTICE
Even as efforts are being made to move on together, it is wise to reflect on the entire election process from registration of voters to voter education to result transmission.

Kenyans prayed for peace to a point I thought we were disturbing God.

Justice is the mother of peace.

For real electoral peace to reign in Kenya therefore, I wish to propose a rather radical suggestion: have a fresh presidential election and have IEBC start from point A to get to Z.

REPEAT POLL

All candidates are to have agents at all polling stations and copies of Forms 34A signed by all agents be given to agents for their candidates.

IEBC and all candidates are then to respectively and separately add up their figures based on the signed Forms 34A.

The totals are, thereafter, co-related. The winner of such an open process would be acceptable to all parties and losers would happily concede defeat.

This would also reposition the trust of Kenyans in the unadulterated independence and integrity of IEBC and entrench democratic principles in the country. 

“It would cost Kenyans billions,” some would argue, but I dare to say that the billions of material shillings would be nothing compared to the immemorial emotional cost of just moving on unjustly and unreflectively.

COST

Spending the billions for a truly credible, free, fair and transparent election would be worth more a prayer for lasting and genuine peace than decades of prayer for peace on one side of the mouth and injustice on the other side of the same mouth, especially for a country that is so strongly tribalised.

Some hard food for thought!

Fr Livinus Onogwu is a Catholic priest based in Mombasa

It’s time Kenyan youth held political leaders accountable on governance

Nasa have given peace a chance; now wait for the judges to speak