The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has expressed optimism that it would not disappoint Kenyans in the conduct of the high stake August 9 General Elections.
IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera said Kenyans should expect nothing short of free, fair, peaceful and credible elections from the electoral body.
“IEBC is conscious of its responsibilities and the huge expectations of Kenyans for credible and peaceful elections,” said Cherera adding that they are ready to hold the impending polls.
She spoke at Jacaranda Beach Hotel in Diani, Kwale County during the launch of Human Rights Agenda (HURIA) harmonised 2022 election strategy under the banner ‘Uchaguzi Bila Balaa’ (election without violence).
HURIA is a non-profit, non-partisan and a local Non-Governmental organisation (NGO) based at the Coast of Kenya founded immediately after the 2010 referendum as a response to the dictates of the new Constitutional order.
HURIA Executive Director Yusuf Lule said they had developed an elaborate strategy that seeks to employ multiple approaches towards strengthening the participation of special interest groups in the prevention and mitigation of electoral and politically instigated violence in Mombasa, Kwale and Kilifi counties.
He said HURIA’s 2022 election strategy was developed with financial support from UN-Women, USAID, the Royal Danish Embassy and European Union in partnership with Act Change Transform (ACT) and the Search for Common Ground.
Cherera said the country should expect a free and fair election this August adding that IEBC would deploy enough human, managerial and material resources to ensure the forthcoming polls remained credible and transparent.
She said this year’s closely contested elections cannot be rigged as the electoral body has put in place a foolproof voting system.
“We have a tamper-proof system in place in the form of a secure biometric voter registration system that will ensure we hold a free, fair and credible election that cannot be rigged” she said.
She said, “Elections happen at the polling stations and there we have party and candidates’ agents who are the eyes and ears of the candidates running for elective seats and the results would be announced and pasted outside the polling stations for all to see”.
Cherera urged all stakeholders like political parties, civil society and religious leaders to play their part in ensuring that the country enjoys free, fair and peaceful elections.
She also recalled that the legal system can also be used by poll losers to settle any grievances after elections.
The vice Chairperson said the Wafula Chebukati led IEBC is currently transferring its entire county and constituency based staff ahead of the forthcoming election to ensure non-interference of the polls from any quarter.
“Those who served in the 2017 general election in a county or a constituency level can easily be influenced and that is why we are taking them to serve in a new station for the August 9 poll,” she said.
She said, “It’s our human resource policy that we reshuffle staff months to the elections to ensure accountability, credibility and transparency in the electoral processes”.
The IEBC vice chair has urged women to actively go for various elective political seats in the forthcoming elections instead of lamenting over poor political representation.
She stressed that women should not expect to be given political leadership through nominations saying such tokenism cannot effectively address gender imbalance representation in parliament.
“In the 2017 general elections we had three female elected county governors out of 47, three female deputy governors out of 47 slots, three female senators out of 47, 23 female legislators out of 290 seats in the national assembly and 96 female members of the county assembly out of 1450 MCA slots,” she said.
She said women should not feel intimidated in any way as they seek to take up leadership roles especially in elective and appointive positions as the constitution was clear on how women ought to be represented.
Tom Were, the Chief Executive Officer at Act Change Transform (Act!) a leading nonprofit organisation focused on diverse development initiatives, said women must come out in large numbers to face male political rivals to seek elective positions.
“As key electoral stakeholders we must come up with ways and means to strengthen women in leadership positions,” he said.
Were said the forthcoming polls were crucial for the country and urged the electorates to seize the moment to elect credible leaders in the various elective seats up for grabs.
He said as civil society members they would be working with IEBC to strengthen and promote credible, inclusive and transparent elections.
Were also said they are working overdrive to get more women, youth and people living with disabilities to vote on the polling day. “We must hammer in the importance of ensuring that women, young people and those with disabilities are able to fully participate in election processes,” said Were.
On his part Kwale County Commissioner Gideon Oyagi gave an assurance that the security agencies would provide the needed security for electoral officials so as to have the electorate to cast their votes in a peaceful environment.
Oyagi who is the chairman of the county security and intelligence committee said the government is out to guarantee a safe, secure and transparent election process where Kenyans will be the ultimate winners in the August 9 polls.
He said the government recently unveiled national, regional, county and sub county multi-sectoral coordination and collaboration forums on election preparedness with key stakeholders to develop strategies, systems and structures for the conduct of free, fair, transparent and peaceful elections.
By Hussein Abdullahi