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.

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