Top Stories / National
Saturday, 24 Jun 2017 13:59 EAT
The confidence Kenyans have in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is being eroded less than two months before the August 8 General Elections, if the latest court rulings quashing commission’s decisions is anything to go by.
IEBC yesterday suffered a major setback after a five-judge bench affirmed the earlier High Court decision that results declared by returning officers cannot be altered or changed at the National Polling Centre.
On announcement of presidential results, the Court held that the IEBC's returning officers posted in the 290 constituencies must electronically transmit presidential results to the national tallying centre in Nairobi. But they cannot be altered in Nairobi. “The IEBC chairman has no power to unilaterally tally, verify, confirm and declare presidential results or to arbitrarily overturn the decision made by voters,” the court said.
Attorney General Githu Muigai and two lawyers hired by the commission, lost the case despite spiritedly arguing that IEBC chairman had the final word on the declaration of the presidential results. The Opposition, led by lawyer James Orengo and Africog Director Maina Kiai, opposed the appeal against a High Court ruling that had decreed that results tallied and announced by the returning officers at the constituencies were final. The AG also accused the courts of engaging in politics instead of sticking to their law interpretation role.
Even though National Super Alliance (NASA) won in the court battle, the precedence is not good for the country as it is drawing a major rift between the main political players; ruling Jubilee and NASA which can be interpreted as a recipe for chaos.
Three days ago the High Court permanently quashed the IEBC's decision to bar Machakos Wiper governor candidate Ms Wavinya Ndeti from the race. In his ruling, Justice George Odunga said the move by electoral commission had no legal basis. Unfortunately the matter is again in the Court of Appeal after the petitioner Wamunyu MCA Mr Kyalo Kyuli contested the ruling with support from IEBC, whose chairman Mr Wafula Chebukati had barred Ms. Wavinya contesting.
And attention now is on the suit filed by NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga to stop the Sh2.5 billion tender awarded to a Dubai company from printing ballot papers. Al-Ghurair, the firm that has been contracted to print the papers should not be allowed, according to NASA since has been linked to President Kenyatta’s family.
Certainly Kenyans do not want a repeat of the 2007/8 post-election violence. Political wounds are still raw and therefore IEBC should play its independent role in conducting free, fair and transparent elections. It is advisable that either Jubilee or NASA should not be seen to interfere with the operations of IEBC if the outcome of the elections will be acceptable to all voters from the political divide.
Already political commentators are calling on IEBC to rise above political manipulation from Jubilee to ensure Kenyans give the body confidence as it conducts the August Elections.