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Final Report Consolidated

Final Report Consolidated

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Published by Muya Mwenzila

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Published by: Muya Mwenzila on May 03, 2012
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CHAPTER 1THE 2007 ELECTIONS IN KENYA: INTRODUCTION
 1.1 Background
On 27 December 2007 some ten million Kenyans went to the polls in what was generallyanticipated to be the most hotly contested and close-run presidential, parliamentary andcivic elections in the country’s 45 years since emerging from British colonial rule. Theregister of voters had been swelled since the previous elections by several million newregistrations, many of them young first-time voters, and the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) had doubled the number of voting stations to 27 555, arranged in some 20000 polling centres.Campaigning at all three levels of the contest had been vigorous, characterised by robustlanguage occasionally lapsing into ethnic hate-speech and deteriorating into violence.Since the constitutional referendum in 2005, political discourse in Kenya had beensustained at a high pitch and tended to focus on the presidential contest. The two mainpresidential candidates, incumbent President Mwai Kibaki and former ally Mr RailaOdinga, had led opposing sides in the referendum, which was won handsomely by theOdinga side. It was therefore hardly surprising that a prominent feature of the ODMparliamentary and presidential campaigns was the claim that only rigging could preventtheir taking power at the elections. This was particularly serious as public comment onthe manner and timing of the appointment of the majority of electoral commissionersduring 2007 had already cast a shadow of suspicion over the ECK’s impartiality. Statepower in Kenya, harking back to the country’s colonial past and decades of one-partyrule, remained vested in a centralised executive exercising control through a network of provincial administrators/district commissioners, a vocal but relatively powerlesslegislature and a compliant judiciary exercising few checks and balances. The presidencywas, rightly, seen as the ultimate political prize. Elections in Kenya have beencharacterised by intensified awareness of ethnic divides and deep-seated historical landgrievances, especially among rural communities. President Kibaki, heading the Party of National Unity (PNU) ticket and drawing his support mainly from the Kikuyu, Embu andMeru communities of Central and central Eastern provinces, campaigned principally onhis socio-economic record.Mr Odinga at the head of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), with the support of largely the Luo, Luhya, Kalenjin and some smaller ethnic communities, vocalised theneed for fundamental political and socio-economic reform and devolution of state power.Although the emphasis was more pronounced at the civic and parliamentary levels, and in
 
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the rural areas, the ethnic configuration of the PNU and the ODM, and the origins of thetwo main contenders in the presidential contest, remained a factor. Opinion pollspredicted a close contest, Odinga leading but Kibaki later narrowing the gap. The PNU,though registered as a political party under Kenyan law as it then was, was in reality anelectoral alliance. The ODM, though also recently assembled, was a fully-fledgedpolitical party, more cohesively organised and hence generally posting a single candidatein each of the provincial and civic contests. The PNU, though uniting behind their singlepresidential candidate, in the other two elections allowed the party’s various componentsto field candidates under their individual banners, often in competition with one another.Having regard to the scope and complexity of the undertaking, polling, counting andannouncement of results seemed satisfactory – wholly unjustifiably, as would becomeonly too apparent in due course. All also seemed well (once again deceptively so) withthe transmission of the requisite documents to returning officers at constituency level andthe onward transmission by them of data to the Kenyatta International Convention Centre(KICC) in downtown Nairobi where the ECK had established its national data tally andmedia centre.There, however, there were ominous portents from the outset. Commissioners and staff of the ECK proved ill-prepared for the relatively straightforward but highly sensitiveexercise of receiving, verifying, tallying, tabulating and announcing the presidentialresults. The ensuing spectacle left an indelible impression on visitors to the media centreand on millions of television viewers. Six months later, informant after informant aroundthe country could vividly recall their astonishment and anger at the fiasco and couldmimic and quote the ECK chairman verbatim.
 
In the event the PNU and its scattered array of allies were defeated in the parliamentaryand civic elections. Also, as results trickled in, first from ODM strongholds and only laterfrom the PNU heartland, President Kibaki trailed most of the time and only startedcatching up well into the tallying exercise. He was ultimately announced the winner (by231 728 votes) in the late afternoon of 30 December 2007, and then hurriedly sworn in,notwithstanding vociferous protests that the result had been rigged by the ECK. Theseprotests and an ODM press conference were abruptly silenced by a news blackout andsummary security clampdown as armed soldiers bustled candidates, party agents,diplomats and domestic as well as international observers out of the KICC.Some observers were aghast, others who had been allowed into the tally centre werevolubly incensed by what they regarded as evidence of malfeasance on the part of theECK committed in their very presence. Upward adjustment of already announced resultsfrom some populous pro-Kibaki constituencies, seemingly favouring the President,fanned the flames of suspicion. Televised utterances by Chairman Kivuitu only served to
 
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make matters worse, as did a hurriedly composed media statement released by four out of twenty-two commissioners, commenting on the turn of events and calling for calm.Widespread and often ethnically motivated violence erupted and rapidly spread. Over theensuing six or seven weeks approximately 1,150 people were killed, property damage ranto billions of Shillings and some 300 000 Kenyans were forced to flee their homes andlivelihoods.
1.2 Scope of mandate
 
Pursuant to the political pact brokered by Mr Annan and his colleagues, the sevenmembers and the secretary of IREC were consensually identified and formallyappointed by President Kibaki under the Commissions of Inquiry Act (Cap. 102).IREC’s terms of reference (ToRs) were published in Gazette Notice 1983,
KenyaGazette
of 14 March 2008 (annex 1.A) and mandated examination of the 2007elections from a number of different angles:
 
The constitutional and legal framework to identify any weaknesses orinconsistencies.
 
The structure and composition of the ECK in order to assess its independence,capacity and functioning.
 
The electoral environment and the role of the political parties, civil society, themedia and observers.
 
The organisation and conduct of the 2007 elections, extending from civic andvoter education and registration through polling, logistics, security, vote-countingand tabulation to results-processing and dispute resolution.
 
Vote-tallying and -counting to assess the integrity of the results of the entireelection with special attention to the presidential contest.
 
Assess the functional efficiency of the ECK and its capacity to discharge itsmandate.
 
Recommend electoral and other reforms to improve future electoral processes.
 
Within six months to submit to President Kibaki and the Panel its findings andrecommendations which are then to be published within 14 days.
1.3 Overview of report
This report first outlines how IREC set about executing its mandate, then details some of the salient aspects of its activities and findings, broadly discussed by reference to theToRs, and concludes with a number of specific recommendations aimed at preventing a

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