The new report “Kenya’s 2013 Election: A Review of the Environment and Electoral Preparedness”, the latest installment for The Kenya National Dialogue and Monitoring Project from South Consulting was released last week.
No big surprises here, but worth reading for anyone planning to be involved from here forward. The most unique thing about these reports is monitoring of public opinion in regard to the various reform and election preparations issues. Takeaways: confirmation that the public nationally has still had a high level of support for the ICC process. In Central and Rift Valley, support is significantly less than elsewhere, but still nears 50%. Confidence in the independence and expected effectiveness of the IEBC was holding up in spite of the problems with the BVR tender. The reform process for the judiciary has been well received with a big increase in confidence in the courts versus the past. On the other hand, nothing of significance has been done in regard to land issues, there has been little done of police reform, and the early pre-election violence has contributed to a large increase in the level of insecurity and expectations for violence around the elections. Interestingly, however, there has been some uptick in perceptions of the police in spite of the lack of progress in implementing major reform.
A personal observation is that confidence in the IEBC is a double-edged sword. If the IEBC has a real chance to deliver a fair and fully legitimate election, then a high level of public support going in can have significant advantages in encouraging the public to avoid cynicism, participate in the process, tone down “negative ethnicity” and avoid pre-election violence, etc. Perhaps most importantly, it could help buy patience in addressing issues and problems that will inevitably arise in the final stages of a close election. On the other hand, if the 2013 election turns out to be openly irregular as in 2007, the dashed expectations should be expected to be naturally volatile.
More important reading on what happened in 2007-08 from a study, Spontaneous or Premeditated? Post-Election Violence in Kenya, from Dr. Godwin Murunga published last year by the Nordic Africa Institute.