Kenya: Don’t Abandon Pact On Poll Team Reform

The deal struck between the government and the opposition principals on Tuesday over the electoral reforms seemed to falter on Wednesday as the leaders went back to their previous positions.

President Uhuru Kenyatta and his deputy, Mr William Ruto, categorically stated in Nakuru that the reforms will have to be done according to the Constitution, meaning led by Parliament, and criticised the opposition, which wants negotiations done outside and only taken to the House for legislation.

Cord leaders Raila Odinga and Moses Wetang’ula, on the other hand, told the government to name its team and get the negotiation started quickly or face the resumption of its weekly protests against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

The Tuesday meeting that came after lobbying by various players such as the private sector and religious organisations was seen as a watershed. It was thought that finally, the leaders had seen the necessity to engage each other directly and give reason a chance.

The spirit and desire for structured reform was clear to both camps and the public was relieved that there would not be more pain and anguish over the street protests.

It will be disastrous for the leaders to go back on their agreement. All agree that the commission must be reformed; the disagreement is on the process, which is not difficult to resolve.

With just 14 months to next year’s elections, the question of the electoral commission must be concluded quickly to give whatever team in place time to plan and fully prepare for it. Part of the reason for the mess at the last election was that many things were done in a rush and without proper planning. We have the benefit of history and can do better.

We still go back to our argument that the government and the opposition must avoid obstinacy and do the right thing. Let them start the process of negotiation, which, as we have said before, must be broad-based and inclusive. Threats, chest-thumping, and intimidation from either camp are unacceptable

Source: The Nation