Kenya’s democracy, justice and peace were all judged in Bomas

When IEBC chairwoman Wafula Chebukati was taken to safety after chaos broke out in Kenya’s Bomas ahead of the announcement of the presidential results. [Standard]

On August 9, 2022, observers, media and agents observed and scrutinized the voting and counting at the polling stations, where the results of the presidential elections were recorded in Form 34A, scanned and simultaneously transmitted to the constituency and at national counting centres.

Election results for Governors, Senators, Elected Women, Members of the National Assembly, and Members of the County Assembly were not transmitted electronically. Only the results of the presidential elections are transmitted electronically in accordance with the law and court decisions. The results announced at polling stations for the President are final, in case of dispute. This is why the role of agents of presidential candidates; media and observers is critical. Every presidential candidate should have well-trained agents at every polling station. The lack of agents and observers in all 46,229 polling stations is regrettable.

In my observation experience, voter education and election observation at all polling stations are the most important exercises to ensure electoral integrity and the sanctity of the secret ballot.

In some polling stations, we observed presidents refusing access to agents, saying that there were too many independent candidates and each should be assigned an agent and insisting that if agents from Kenya Kwanza or Azimio One Kenya were already inside they can observe for the other five elections. or take shifts!!

In other stronghold polling stations, agents were not present at all. Some observers were also denied entry to some stronghold polling stations and only gained access after interventions at higher levels of the IEBC. We observed an incredibly high number of rejected ballots; some constituencies having more than 900 rejected votes. If you average those numbers for the 290 ridings, that number starts to matter in a hotly contested poll.

Moreover, observers can only speak with certainty about what we have observed. Since 2002, voting and counting at polling stations has improved exponentially, but we do not know what is going on in the transmission, collation and tallying of these results, as these processes are more difficult to observe. and we can only trust what the President and Commissioners tell us. .

Although everyone has access to the IEBC portal; with the 46,229 Form 34As, only a few have the ability to aggregate numbers; The IEBC did not aggregate the results of Forms 34A and 34B and Form 34C was not downloadable at all, so no one actually knew the results until Mr. Chebukati announced them.

The media tried, but at one point they all waited patiently for the final count, with everyone claiming to have won. Therefore, it is necessary to let electoral justice take its course. After all, if the candidates and the litigants had not gone to court before, the electoral process would not have been as transparent as it was and things would have been worse. It seems that the courts actually strengthen democracy and expand electoral jurisprudence. It also provides an opportunity for parties to demonstrate to their supporters that their support is important to them and, in seeking electoral justice, to calm them down and allow them to move forward.

Finally, I was saddened by the conduct of the President and the four Commissioners who did not join in the final count. To be sure, both sides had reasons for their actions; perhaps they could have handled the matter differently.

The president had until Tuesday to announce the results; he could have tried to find an amicable solution with the agents and fellow Commissioners; he could have begged the indulgence of the Kenyans for one more day. And if he hasn’t succeeded in his quest for an amicable solution by Tuesday afternoon, then announce what he counted.

The four commissioners could also have raised red flags during the five days and nights we all spent literally in Bomas and perhaps also informed Kenyans of their concerns.

Perhaps the returning officer for presidential elections should be the chief justice, as in Botswana, to ensure objectivity and trust.

The agents and sympathizers of the two main candidates could also have behaved better. Voters showed incredible political maturity and stoicism; referees and key players must return the compliment.

Violence, intimidation and beatings to the chest should have no place in our democracy. It is our country.

About Bradley J. Bridges

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