TEN POINTS FOR THE KENYAN ELECTIONS 2017

Dr. Elias Opongo, SJ

EliasGeneral elections are scheduled to be held in Kenya on 8 August 2017. Voters will elect the President and his deputy, members of Parliament (Senate and National Assembly) and devolved government members (county governors and ward representatives). Campaigns are kicking off for the August 8th 2017 balloting, and many Kenyans worry that this race will be a rerun of the divisive 2007-2008 elections that were marked by accusations of vote-rigging, ethnic and tribal strife and economic duress resulting in deaths of 1,300 people and displacement of 600,000 people. This was the worst violence in the country since independence in 1963. According to recent polls, 70 percent of Kenyans say they are worried about a repeat of that violence.

How can all the parties involved ensure a free, fair electoral process and a peaceful post election climate? The Ten Point analysis below reflects the steps that need to be taken:

1. Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC)

The IEBC needs to remain transparent and professional during the elections with clear supervision of the electoral process. It ought to see to it that the counting and announcement of results are done in an objective manner, and make sure that all registered voters are in the appropriated records and aware of the required procedures, and that all voting equipment is available and functional throughout the country.

2. Political leaders

Political leaders should lead by example and avoid politicized ethnicity and be accountable for their actions by shifting away from bribery and manipulation of the population. They should focus on uniting Kenyans, presenting a clear vision for the country's future development and creating a corruption free system.

3. Political campaigns

Election campaigns should be issue-based with a focus on the improvement of people's lives, a greater development, more employment, good security and increased economic opportunities for all Kenyans.

4. Election results

Political leaders and voters need to accept election results and put forward the interests of their counties and country before their own. There should be fairness and credibility at all stages in the conduction of elections, the counting of votes and the announcement of results.

5. Media

The media should remain objective in reporting the track of events and avoid divisive politics. It should make sure that leaders are held accountable for their actions. Media plays an indispensable role in the proper functioning of a democracy.

6. Voters
The voters are ultimately the ones that hold power in a democracy. They should come out in large numbers to vote and make their voices heard. They should also keep away from ethnicized politics and focus on issues that will develop the country. And last, they should elect leaders that show integrity and have a clear agenda for the progress of the people and the country.

7. Judiciary

The judiciary should maintain the objectivity in the judgment by strictly following the law and putting the interest of the country and its people first.

8. Security personnel

The security personnel ought to demonstrate professionalism in service delivery and avoid excess use of force, intimidation and biased application of the law.

9. Youth

Youth are generally vulnerable during the electioneering period. They ought to stay away from violence and not allow themselves be manipulated by politicians to take part in violence and divisive politics. They should come out in large numbers to vote given that their future depends on good leadership and proper implementation of citizen-centered policies.

10. Religious leaders

Religious leaders are the conscience of the society and should show leadership and stay away from partisan politics. They ought to be prophetic while speaking out against leaders who propagate divisive politics and violence.

 

Hekima Monthly Public Forum

Elections Preparedness: A Reality Check, My Responsibility

7 July 2017

EPRCMR 012With the upcoming general elections scheduled for August 2017, HIPSIR recognizes that initiating a multifaceted peace building effort and preventing pre and post elections violence and creating sustainable peace beyond the elections period is critical. Ensuring credible and peaceful elections is a collective responsibility that involves many key actors, including the citizens. In its tradition of organizing topical monthly public forums, HIPSIR, in collaboration with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) and Kenya Electoral Assistance Program (KEAP) held a monthly public forum themed Elections Preparedness: A Reality Check, My Responsibility on July 7, 2017. The event targeted scholars, subject matter experts, government, religious leaders and organizations (NGOs, CSOs, FBOs and CBOs) keen on promoting peaceful democratic transitions and members of the public. The key speakers at the forum included Mr. Irungu Houghton, the Associate Director of the Society for International Development, who spoke on the relationship between peace and justice, reminding the audience that it is a constitution right to have credible and peaceful elections and the current dichotomy that exists of pitting justice against peace is an anomaly since sustainable peace cannot take root in the absence of justice. Mr. Obadiah Keitany, the Director of Audit, Risk and Compliance of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) spoke on the structures and mechanisms that have been put in place to ensure free, fair and peaceful elections. Mr. Martin Oloo, a lawyer and political analyst, discussed the social contract that exists between the electorate and political leaders. He stressed on the importance of ethics in the Kenyan political sphere. A key factor that will ensure the elections are credible and peaceful is the willingness of all the stakeholders including the citizens to engage in a constructive dialogue in a responsible and responsive manner. The IEBC as the body mandated to deliver free, fair and credible elections is expected to educate and inform the public on the progress it makes related to how well prepared it is for the elections while ensuring it conducts its work in a transparent manner in order to build trust with all the stakeholders. It is each person's responsibility to ensure credible and peaceful elections.

 

HIPSIR Baseline Survey on Capacity and Knowledge Gaps in Extractive Industries in Kenya

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) is conducting a baseline survey on the existing capacity and knowledge gaps at the county levels (Turkana, Kwale, Kitui, Lamu, Migori and Taita Taveta) in addressing the diverse issues of concern in extractive industries. The survey interrogates community members and leaders, non-governmental organisations (NGOs), community based organisations (CBOs), county government officials and academic institutions. The outcomes of the survey would be important in identifying the gaps in knowledge, policy formulation and implementation as well as research and advocacy activities. HIPSIR hopes to use the information to launch a specialized Chartered Mediators Training that will assist communities in negotiating for their rights, understanding the different issues around extractive industries and ensuring that they enjoy the benefits accrued from the industry. The survey runs between 1st June – 1st October 2017.

 

REFLECTIONS ON ELECTORAL FIASCOS | Macharia Munene

Photo by: Dan Muchai

MACHARIA MUNENE

Macharia MuneneMajor political parties in Kenya went through what should have been a routine exercise which in reality turned out to be orchestrated fiascos. The major ones, the Jubilee and the CORD coalitions, displayed either gross incompetence or political mischief. It probably was both. As a result, party primary nomination exercises were disgraceful and put them into disrepute. The disgrace gave rise to three inter-related political developments. First, increased erosion of the influence of political barons on their people as defiance of "party leader" became normal. Secondly, the beneficiaries of that erosion were small political parties, such as Alfred Mutua's Maendeleo Chap Chap, which politically harvested so much that it emerged as the third largest political party after Jubilee and NASA-Pentagon. Thirdly, the erosion also led to the "independence" phenomenon in which unprecedented number of candidates ditched their parties and thrust themselves into the political scene as independents.

There were, however, limited moments of encouragements. In Uasin Gishu voters ignored natural born or ethnic candidates and elected Swarup Mishra of Indian origin, as their prospective MP. This showed they were concerned with performance and not race or origin. After the Jubilee officialdom postponed the nomination exercise nationally, President Uhuru Kenyatta came out and apologized to the party faithfuls for the mess-up. There were losing candidates, some grumblingly, who took the high ground, accepted defeat, and promised to campaign for the president. These included Kabando wa Kabando in Mukurweini, Isaac Mwaura in Ruiru, Mary Wambui and Simon Nderitu Gachunia in Othaya, Governor Benjamin Cheboi in Baringo, and Jamleck Kamau in Muranga. There was drama in Kiambu where sitting Governor William Kabago was the first in the country to concede defeat to the team of Ferdinand Waititu and James Nyoro, mainly because he had lost in his own polling station, only to change his mind. He joined the band of "independent" candidates and became one of its key organisers.

There are two types of independents. The first type comprises candidates who had decided long before that they did not want affiliation with any political party. They did not subscribe to any of the party policies or accept the leadership of the party. They wanted a guaranteed way to ensure that their names appear in the final ballot paper. Being independent was one sure way to ensure name in the ballot paper.

The desire to be in the final ballot paper links these to the second type of independents. These are those who have no substantial difference with party policies or leadership but felt jilted. In the group are different politicians, some are disillusioned with their parties, others were cheated in the primaries, and some are suffering from the sense of vanity. For those who felt short-changed, becoming independent is a way of challenging their "leaders" and party officials. There are also those who suffer from a sense of vanity and can later boast that they were "candidates."

What made the public disappointment serious was the high expectation of political decency that leaders had generated. ODM, WIPER, and Jubilee were loud about their efficiency and the security measures that they had taken to ensure that all would run with precision. They promised fairness and peacefulness in the primaries in their party democracy. Yet they seemed to bulldoze and impose some candidates over others. Among those to grumble, whether they "won" or "lost", were supposed party stalwarts. They included WIPER Chairman David Musila and party financier Johnstone Muthama. In ODM Jakoyo Midiwo and Paul Utuoma broke ranks with party leader Raila Odinga. And in Jubilee, there were Governors Jackson Kiplagat Mandago of Uasin Gishu and Kabogo of Kiambu complaining about Deputy President William Ruto who reportedly interfered by "sponsoring" favourites.

It part, the disappointment was because the parties were not prepared but engaged in political mischief. They made excuses for failure to deliver and just looked bad. ODM had the peculiar habit of giving the same victory certificate to rival candidates whose followers inflicted body injuries on each other. This was after "parallel" tallying with each side having a "returning officer" who declared its official winner. It appeared like practice for August 8, 2017, when the ODM, given its public statements, will ignore the IEBC and declare its own winner. The Jubilee failures, given the air of confidence that it had exuded, were surprising as it was forced to postpone everything. Subsequent claims that it had underprepared because it did not expect a huge voter turnout made little sense and could not explain inability to open polling stations on time. It had poor coordination or sense of party authority and communication as the headquarters sounded ridiculous contradicting what was in the field. All types of confusion, therefore, prevailed. A few observations emerged.

One:
The parties gave mixed signals as to which "register" election officials were to use in permitting people to vote. Was it only party members who were to vote or was it any voter who had an ID or a voter's card? And there was no mechanism for stopping people who had voted from double voting.

Two:
Party bosses could not contain emerging rebellion that swept out "stalwarts" and also produced rising political stars. While they succeeded in imposing their will in some places, they failed in others and were exposed as vulnerable.

Three:
The credibility and image of hitherto "respectable" people was shattered. Although their misbehavior could be dismissed as "politics", it went beyond "politics" into the realm of criminality and immorality.

Four:
The fiascos in the primaries exposed party incompetence, provided opportunity for the IEBC to learn lessons to avoid future mistakes and the likely dangers from political parties that are bent on usurping the IEBC mandate.

Five:
There are at least some honourable men and women who won fairly or who accepted defeat with dignity instead of throwing tantrums.

Six:
The overwhelming turn out of voters meant that there could be a large turnout at the 8th August elections. The IEBC needs to be well prepared to handle large turnout of voters.

 

Women's participation in politics and electoral processes

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) and in collaboration with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust (CRAWN-Trust), Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW), and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), convened a one day round-table reflection forum on "Women's Political Dialogue: Kenya's 2017 Elections" on May 24th, 2017.

The overall goal of the round table was to reflect on the experiences of women politicians in the recently concluded party primary nominations of candidates that will vie for electoral positions in the August 2017 general elections. The forum also looked at how best to strategical support the increase of women's political participation in the coming elections, as well as putting in place early warning mechanisms, such as the 'Women Situation Room' and the Violence Against Women in Elections (VAWIE) hotline that would ensure that the elections are peaceful, and that there are stop gap measures to deal with any forms of electoral related violence.

The format of the round table discussions included presentations, sharing of experiences by some of the women political aspirants, as a well as a presentation by the National Democratic Institute (NDI) on internal survey results of interviews conducted on a cross-section of 5,000 women who were engaged and trained to be involved in politics (why they decided to vie for office, or not; what were their experiences during the primary elections; what ways they want to continue to be involved).

 

Countering Religious Extremism and Violence: Dialo-Praxis on Interreligious Dialogue, Holy Scripture (mis)Interpretations and Political Implications

Religious extremism and violence is the plague of our time. It has increased in frequency, scale and has become a central issue for Kenya and the region. Some religious groups in the country have adopted radical and divisive doctrines, convictions and ideologies which undermine pluralism and tolerance and fuel terrorism. The phenomenal growth of religious extremism in the country is a threat to peace, cohesion and development.

HIPSIR recognized that countering religious extremism is a collective responsibility that involves many actors from government and non-governmental institutions. Following this realization HIPSIR organised a round table themed "Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on Countering Violent Extremism" and a public forum themed "Countering Violent Extremism: Religious Extremism, Holy Scripture (mis)Interpretations and Political Implications" on 4th April, 2017.

The events targeted scholars, subject matter experts, religious leaders and organizations (NGOs, CSOs, FBOs and CBOs) keen in promoting religious pluralism, tolerance and peace in society and members of the public to deliberate on the topical issue. The objectives of the event were to: understand reasons behind violent religious extremism; engage religious leaders on undertones in religious scriptures (Quran and Bible) to unpack misunderstandings and misinterpretations often used to engender violent religious extremism; examine the frustration of inter-religious dialogue efforts in countering violent religious extremism; find the nexus between religious extremism and governance; and come up with solutions to counter religious extremism and violence.

 

Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on Countering Violent Religious Extremism

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) successfully held a roundtable and a public forum on 4th April 2017 on countering violent religious extremism in Kenya. The theme of the round-table was "Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on Countering Violent Extremism" and that of the public forum was "Religious Extremism, Holy Scriptures' Interpretations and Political Implications". The whole day affair drew from a pool of scholars, experts, religious leaders, both governmental and non-governmental organisations all working towards countering violent extremism.

A general voice echoed in the room that the past decade has seen a rise in radicalisation and religious extremism. Popular sentiments also were that religion is not the only instigator to violent extremism but rather one of the many in a miscellany of societal issues that include: perceived economic marginalization of some sections of the society, poverty, historical injustices, lack of identity, deteriorating family values, poor governmental counter-terrorism strategies and the abuse and misinterpretation of Holy Scriptures by religious notables.

The implication of violent extremism has resulted to the surge in numbers of young people joining extremist groups such al-Shabaab, terrorism and tension between different faiths. This has weakened progression of multiculturalism, thus resulting to Islamophobia due to association of terrorism with the religion of Islam. Even so, this has also been shaped by the delusion that terror is inherently Islamic, and that all Muslims are likely to become radicalised and pose security threat.

In countering religious extremism, a number of activities have been undertaken by both government and non-government organisations. These range from: promotion of inter-religious dialogues; establishment of institutions dealing with violent extremism; promotion of violent extremism counter-narratives; and building of community support and trust.

As a way forward in countering violent extremism, it is important to:

  1. Ensure collective responsibility in countering violent extremism with actors from government and non-governmental institutions.
  2. Develop and build counter narratives to ideas of extremism.
  3. Bolster interfaith dialogues to enhance pluralism and religious tolerance.
  4. Utilise academic content available from the countless research in policy formulation.

From left to right

 From left to right: Mr. Bernard O. Okok, Sheikh Athman Abdallah, Rev. Fred Nyabera, Dr. Reginald Nalugala

Participants during the round-table discussion

 Participants during the round-table discussion

 

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TEN POINTS FOR THE KENYAN ELECTIONS 2017

TEN POINTS FOR THE KENYAN ELECTIONS 2017

Dr. Elias Opongo, SJ General elections are scheduled to be held in Kenya on 8 August 2017. Voters will elect the President and his deputy, members of Parliament (Senate and National Assembly) and devolved government members (county governors and ward representatives)....

Read more

Hekima Monthly Public Forum

Hekima Monthly Public Forum

Elections Preparedness: A Reality Check, My Responsibility 7 July 2017 With the upcoming general elections scheduled for August 2017, HIPSIR recognizes that initiating a multifaceted peace building effort and preventing pre and post elections violence and creating sustainable peace beyond the elections...

Read more

HIPSIR Baseline Survey on Capacity and Knowledge Gaps in Extractive Industries in Kenya

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) is conducting a baseline survey on the existing capacity and knowledge gaps at the county levels (Turkana, Kwale, Kitui, Lamu, Migori and Taita Taveta) in addressing the diverse issues of concern...

Read more

REFLECTIONS ON ELECTORAL FIASCOS | Macharia Munene

REFLECTIONS ON ELECTORAL FIASCOS | Macharia Munene

MACHARIA MUNENE Major political parties in Kenya went through what should have been a routine exercise which in reality turned out to be orchestrated fiascos. The major ones, the Jubilee and the CORD coalitions, displayed either gross incompetence or political mischief....

Read more

Women's participation in politics and electoral processes

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) and in collaboration with International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), Community Advocacy and Awareness Trust (CRAWN-Trust), Centre for Rights, Education and Awareness (CREAW), and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC),...

Read more

Countering Religious Extremism and Violence: Dialo-Praxis on Interreligious Dialogue, Holy Scripture (mis)Interpretations and Political Implications

Religious extremism and violence is the plague of our time. It has increased in frequency, scale and has become a central issue for Kenya and the region. Some religious groups in the country have adopted radical and divisive doctrines, convictions...

Read more

Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on Countering Violent Religious Extremism

Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on Countering Violent Religious Extremism

Hekima Institute of Peace Studies and International Relations (HIPSIR) successfully held a roundtable and a public forum on 4th April 2017 on countering violent religious extremism in Kenya. The theme of the round-table was "Interreligious Dialogue and Scholarly Dialo-Praxis on...

Read more

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