Uncertainty mars Kenya polls: Million dead voters, violence, fears of war

Uncertainty mars Kenya polls: Million dead voters, violence, fears of war

By Njeri Kimani

Pre or post-election violence is not a complex eventuality. Often the signs of impending chaos are there. The recipe for disaster is known. In Kenya, the requisite ingredients have all been thrust into the pot and they are cooking.

The body mandated to handle the Kenyan elections Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) seems ill prepared to ensure the polls are transparent and credible.

With just 26 days left to the polls, the firm is yet to weed out 92  000 dead voters from the official voter register, which opposition leaders claim is a plot to rig in the August 8th polls.

Audit firm KMPG claimed that there was an estimated additional dead 1,037,260 voters on the roll, calling for their immediate expansion.

In the survey carried out in May, the firm established that more than 17,523 passports used to register were inactive.

Gerald Kasimu, head of Information Technology Advisory Services, pointed out that they had used  data from the Civil Registration Department, The government organ mandated to carry out birth and death registrations.

National Super Alliance (NASA) Principals expressed concern that the dead voters could be a ploy by the government to rig the elections in their favor’s-principal Raila Odinga claimed that two million votes were used to rig in favor of the ruling Jubilee Party, citing that the  trend could be repeated in this year’s election.

“The register already has massive irregularities, including double registration and names of deceased persons. We have pleaded  with IEBC to clean up the register but they have not taken our pleas seriously, “said Raila.

Co-principal Musalia Mudavadi wants the already disbanded National Assembly recalled for a special sitting to discuss the register. He argued that the only way to ensure the elections were credible was by presenting a list with no anomalies.

IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo claims that it is impossible for people to vote twice, citing that the Biometric Voter Registration machines will not capture a voter’s details twice

IEBC Suffered Twice when the high court has cancelled tenders issued to Dubai based    Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing for the printing of the 120 million ballot papers which will be used in the polls.

The $24million tender came under sharp criticism from Kenyans, who claimed that there was no transparency in the way the tendering process was carried out.

Seven presidential candidates demanded that a local company should get the tender, after the nullification was done by the High Court.

Presidential aspirant Ekuru Aukot claimed that there was nothing hard in printing that would warranty it to be done outside the country.

“It’s not rocket science. We have confidence in ourselves and have the right technology here. Even our cash is printed in the country and it is our legal tender,” he added.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, William Ruto, questioned the judiciary handling of election related cases, pointing out that it favored the opposition.

The Leaders claimed that the courts intended to have the elections pushed forward, terming it as practically impossible the two insisted that judges are working with the Opposition in a scheme to have the polls postponed.

Uhuru claimed that the Opposition was using the Judiciary and IEBC to scuttle the electoral process as they had detected loss.

He claimed that they were not “Fools “having respected the judiciary a while ago, but they would not accept the courts to be used by people with selfish interest to frustrate the electoral process.

“We will not allow our competitors to frustrate IEBC, thinking they will win through the back door,” said Uhuru.

In a press release Chief Justice David Maraga accused political leaders of casting aspersions on the administration of justice based on a misinterpretation of his statements

“It has the potential to impair public confidence in our courts, and this concerns me a great deal.” said the statement.

With over forty people killed by alshabaab in the past two months, the fear that the elections could become bloody has led to the massive migration of people to their rural village.

Haunted by the memories of the Kenyan post-election violence that rocked the country in 2007/08, majority of Kenyans have already started fleeing the towns.

The PEV violence, which costed 1600 people their lives, and displaced 650 000 remains a scar in the Kenyan polls.

Already, the European Union has issued an alert over the possibility of war during the elections over the current trends in the campaigns.

The head of the EU Election Observer Mission (EOM), Marietje Schaake called on all players to take safety measures to stop violence.

“War would create a situation where everyone loses and our current task should be ensuring that this is averted,” she added.

Human Rights Watch report has already raised concern over the looming war, citing that the government is not keen in averting a possible outbreak of post-election violence.

In a post on their website HRW asked the government to urgently investigate allegations of threats and intimidation.

 

“Many people in Naivasha town described threats and intimidation between community members, but said police have failed to investigate, prosecute culprits or protect residents,” the organization said.

“Kenyan authorities should do more to prevent a repeat of the 2007 bloodshed in Naivasha,” said Otsieno Namwaya who is Africa researcher at HRW.

Fears of ethnic violence have seen people perceived to be Opposition supporters flee the area.

On June 10, 2017, Maurice Muhatia, head of the Nakuru Catholic Diocese, had voiced his concern over the rate at which families were fleeing the county ahead of the August elections.

Muhatia claimed that families were first transporting their children, then wives and finally personal effects to their homes.

“We need peace in Nakuru. We lost so much during the violence and we hope that there won’t be a repeat in this year’s poll. We are calling upon all stakeholders to ensure that every Kenyan feels comfortable wherever he is in spite of his second name,” he added.

Masese Kemuncha, a political analyst, hit on IEBC for what he termed as “preparing so hard to fail.”

“The election date is cast on stone but with the current mishaps, the credibility of the organization is already in question. We expect a lot of election related petitions to rise from the next month’s polls,” he added.

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