Every Kenyan that cares about our beloved country is of the view or at least believes we saw the worst of the worst in Kivuitu and his now defunct Electoral Commission when it comes to how we elect our leaders, especially the president.
When the new IEBC was constituted and its commissioners sworn, every expectation has been this new body brings with it not only a sense of hope in finally having an election body that oversees elections that are as fair, open and transparent as can be, but one also that separates itself from politics and remains the neutral referee it must be.
By electing Isaack Hassan, a Kenyan of Somali descent to head the body, the decision makers were obviously also conscious of the fact tribalism has been rearing its ugly head in many, if not all of our institutions so someone from Hassan’s community is generally speaking seen to be less vulnerable to tribalistic conduct in carrying out the duties of this important office.
Both of these considerations, namely, the neutrality of the IEBC and absence of tribalistic or otherwise primitive conduct of the affairs of the IEBC are at stake and going by what just happened this week regarding IEBC’s announcement of the election date, a lot is left to be desired.
Our brothers and sisters from the Kenyan Somali community are also on test whether, indeed, they are or can be the neutral arbiters free of tribalism everyone is giving them the benefit of doubt to be or will they beg to differ.
While no one can at this time say the IEBC is compromised or is headed in the direction the old we so much wish to forget took us with Kivuitu, there are tell tales if the body does not re-evaluate and reverse course, it may start drifting in that direction before forced to correct course.
One such tell tales is the rush to announce an election date under circumstances that in the least clearly show the body has taken sides on an issue it should not.
When the Constitutional Court rendered its decision that is now on appeal regarding the election date, the court essentially gave the country two options and these are, have elections in March 2013, or in 2012 if Kibaki and Raila agree in writing to dissolve the Grand Coalition government.
Although the court did not order a time by which the two principals must agree to dissolve the government in order to have elections in 2012, the latest that can be is October of this year as that would allow the 60 days within which elections must be held under this scenario according to the court failure of which results in the elections being held in March 2013 as the court ruled in the alternative, unless reversed on appeal.
Yet, instead of awaiting either action by the coalition partners or the outcome of the appeal now pending regarding the election date, IEBC has gone ahead and announced its preferred date ostensibly in line with the court’s one half of its confusing decision.
Were that all there is to this, one would pay no attention to it but there is more.
According to the Standard, after its letter to State House seeking a meeting between it and the two principles was ignored, IEBC separately met with Kibaki who told the body his preferred date was the March date that extends his term of office.
The IEBC team then met with the PM who told them he prefers a December date which is also the date preferred by 80% of Kenyans and offered reasons why but the paper reports that “curiously no one went back to the President for direction after what the PM had said.”
In fact, a meeting was already scheduled for Monday between the two principals but then IEBC announced the election date on Saturday, before that meeting and a day after meeting both principals separately.
This conduct by IEBC is troubling for two reasons.
First, it clearly shows that the IEBC has taken sides as between the President and Prime Minister on an issue it should not at all.
There is nothing that would have compelled the IEBC to act in the manner it has other than either trying to make itself a player in a game it’s supposed to be an unbiased referee or Hassan and those who sided with him in making the rushed announcement in this manner have forgotten their noble role in this process.
Second, going by what the Standard reported, it is clear Kibaki is once again playing politics with a matter he should not.
We all saw Kibaki the other day clearly say “tutachaguliana mwisho wa mwaka huu” and when a reporter accurately reported this in the media to everyone’s relief, Kibaki hurried back to a podium to say he said no such a thing and name called the reporter for telling the truth about what he said.
Why is Kibaki not interested in having elections in December of this year as practically all Kenyans want?
His pointing to the “law” as reason why is disingenuous at best because the same law he is purporting to follow also directs him to agree with the PM to hold election in 2012.
The PM has said he supports a December 2012 election, a vast majority of Kenyans, which oddly includes his political enemies agree with him the only person in the way of having elections in 2012 is Kibaki and his clique who for one reason or another want to extend Kibaki’s term of office beyond 2012.
It is in Kibaki’s interest to reverse course on this issue and agree on a December 2012 date if anything for the sake of his legacy otherwise either the Supreme Court will follow the people’s will and set the election date for December or it doesn’t and the election are held in March 2013 as Kibaki wishes without any good reason leaving bad taste in people’s mouths as he leaves office.
The choice is his.