The Dialogue Team of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation holds its thirteenth review meeting
AFRICAN UNION PANEL OF EMINENT AFRICAN PERSONALITIES –
KENYA NATIONAL DIALOGUE AND RECONCILIATION
Nairobi, 14 June, 2012 – The Dialogue Team of the Kenya National Dialogue and Reconciliation (KNDR) held its thirteenth review meeting on the status of implementation of the KNDR agreements with a focus on elections.
The meeting discussed the findings of a report prepared by South Consulting – the research firm designated by the Panel of Eminent African Personalities to undertake independent monitoring and evaluation of the implementation process. The report is available for download at www.dialoguekenya.org.
The report examined the country’s state of electoral preparedness for the first General Elections to be held under the new constitution. It provided an assessment of the extent to which the country had revised its electoral processes and implemented actions to improve the management of elections. The report focused on three priority areas: the pre-election environment; election management and dispute resolution.
On the pre-election environment, the South report indicated progress in improving Kenya’s electoral framework. This began with changes under the new constitution, including the introduction of a two-round system for the presidential election as a means to ensure the winning candidate received sufficient support throughout the country, and other measures intended to bring about equity in representation along gender lines and to ensure representation of other marginalised groups. Progress had also been made by enacting the required legislation.
The report found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) enjoyed high levels of trust among Kenyans, with 80 per cent expressing confidence in the Commission, emanating in large part from the transparent and competitive process by which the Commissioners were hired. The South report found that the IEBC was moving forward in making preparations for the next General Elections.
The report cautioned, however, that despite progress in the above areas, the pre-election environment faced several challenges. It recommended that the uncertainty surrounding the election date should be addressed expeditiously and decisively to allow preparations to proceed without anxiety.
The report noted that while the IEBC and the Judiciary continued to prepare for the elections, other key stakeholders, particularly the political parties were unprepared. The report noted that the high levels of trust in the IEBC could be eroded by the failure to enforce discipline in political practice by enforcing the law, particularly the Political Parties Act, 2011. It emphasizes that simply enacting laws is not enough and its implementation and effective enforcement is crucial to promoting an environment that will engender trust in the election process which is vital for the prevention of electoral violence.
The South report found that the environment for the next General Elections was becoming increasingly divisive with some politicians continuing to mobilise along ethnic lines. It concluded that this was likely to heighten inter-community tensions and create conditions which could lead to greater forms of intolerance and violence.
The enactment of electoral laws was insufficient; the test of the law was its implementation and effective enforcement. The failure to successfully deal with hate speech would continue to have a polarising impact and would have a debilitating effect on the elections environment if the IEBC, NCIC among other players, did not investigate and demand prosecution of perpetrators.
In terms of elections management, the report reiterated the need for all key institutions to work together in a coordinated manner. The speedy disbursement of funds by both the government and development partners was necessary to avoid affecting preparations. Putting in place a fool-proof system for counting votes and transmitting results should also be concluded in a timely manner.
The report noted the importance of settling electoral disputes efficiently and effectively and to this end recognised the importance of putting in place a complete dispute resolution mechanism. It encouraged the use of the Political Parties Disputes Tribunal by political parties.
The Dialogue Team welcomed the timeliness of the subject matter of the report and agreed that the next meeting would be held on or before 11 September, 2012.