More concerns about Kenya’s readiness for elections

The Standard this afternoon: Nation Dialogue report questions readiness for credible election.

The full report from South Consulting for the team led by Kofi Annan is here.Among the conclusions:

*The IEBC is also highly rated by Kenyans. Over 90 per cent of respondents said they have confidence in the IEBC, and a similar number believe that the IEBC is independent enough to conduct the next elections. However, there are concerns that the IEBC has been inconsistent with deadlines. While the eventual levels of registration achieved are respectable by any standards, the Commission had to lower its targets and expectations on voter registration to what was achievable. Furthermore, the requisite managerial capacity of the IEBC to conduct elections is yet to be properly tested. Elections comprise several tasks, all rolled into one major task, and carried out in a few days. On account of this, the Commission should carefully test and review its systems and address any weaknesses before the actual date of the election. This is important to ensure there are no feelings of false security.

*Confidence in the police and in political parties remains relatively low compared to the Judiciary and the IEBC. Although public confidence in the police and political parties is relatively low, the appointment to of an Inspector General of Police alongside the promise to undertake fundamental reforms is likely to draw public trust. Gaining this trust is critical, given the poor level of preparedness that the police have shown in halting the violence taking place in some parts of the country.

*Political parties continue in their old ways; some are allegedly recruiting members through fraud. Parties are still tied to individuals who founded them, and some are still based on ethnic identities and loyalties. As a result of this party primaries conducted in January failed to demonstrate any clear break with the past. The behaviour of political parties has detracted from requirements of the Political Parties Act, 2011, and the Elections Act, 2011, which legislators have mutilated or watered down to serve their political survival interests.

*Party hopping, formation of alliances by elites who do not consult members, and founding parties on ethno-regional platforms is happening in spite of the law and the new Constitution. Unfortunately, responsible public officials are yet to apply sanctions on political parties and the key leaders. Without injurious consequences for their actions, politicians will continue ignoring the rule of law and by that weaken the foundation of a credible election.

Meanwhile, The Nation reports on a dispute between the new Inspector General of the Police and the chair of the National Police Service Commission which resulted in intervention by the Permanent Secretary in the Office of the President and comment from the Independent Police Oversight Authority.

I am working on a more detailed discussion of the problems with the readiness of the Kenya Police Service where reforms have just started to scratch the surface due to delayed implementation of the mandates that were called for by the new constitution. In the meantime, here is the link to the full report released by Amnesty International on January 30 entitled “Kenya Police Reform: A Drop in the Ocean.”

2 thoughts on “More concerns about Kenya’s readiness for elections

  1. The failure by President Kibaki, the Prime Minister, the Vice President and Minister for Home Affairs, the two DPMs, the cognizant line Ministers and the Cabinet as a body to begin implementing the National Police Service Act 2011 beginning in January 2012 demonstrates the total absence of responsible leadership in the GOK Executive Branch still in place as Kenya heads into elections on March 4th. The Members of the Tenth Parliament spent 2012 proclaiming the need for police reforms and better security and voted huge sums ostensibly for this purpose without exercising any oversight concerning whether their law enacted in 2011 was being implemented! Five of the eight presidential candidates should be held accountable for failing to do anything to ensure that Kenyans would have the beginnings of an effective National Police Service as of March 4, 2013 rather than an IG presiding over a disorganized, understaffed and inadequately equipped police force without effective command and control. How is it possible for any consultancy to report without comment that respondents are more confidant and trusting of the police? The print media suppresses these concerns and there will be no questions about the failure to implement an Act so vital to the future of Kenya directed at the candidates during the historic televised debates!
    The very same people who have failed to govern will be back again eventually!

  2. Andrew, I agree–the Amnesty International report and the the new Human Rights Watch report released on the 8th address the reality of police readiness (simply not ready) and the overall security situation. The National Dialogue report in reporting polling on public perception of the various entities is of less interest, I think, in terms of the police. Kenyan “approval or disapproval” norms in pulbic opinion polling are simply much different than what they are in the United States for instance. Witness the approval numbers for Parliment in the National Dialogue reporting. Perceptions of the Judiciary probably matter a good deal, and to a substantial extent the IEBC–in regard to the police less so.

    Likewise, as you note, the international community has not borne down on getting the specific job done in implementing the legislation that was passed in 2011 and since it is too late now, the focus will be on general exortation to reform, with hopes for the best, and a eye to making sure no one gets blamed if things go badly.

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