KENYA DECIDES: Government Bodies Ready for Eventualities

Kenya's Chief Justice Willy Mutunga
Kenya’s Chief Justice Willy Mutunga

it’s all system a-go for the Kenyan elections as all government agencies say they are ready and fully equipped for the March 4th election. In a rare show of readiness, all independent bodies responsible for the election came together at a press conference to assure Kenyans that all will be well if only they maintain peace during the electoral process. Speaking for the Judiciary, Chief Justice, Willy Mutunga says the institution is ready to swear in the next president and a host of other elective officers in this election. He says the courts will work 24 hours seven days in a week to ensure expeditious trial of those charged with criminal offences and also the petitions that are likely to come out of the elections. He says all magistrates are ready to perform their task whenever needed. The Attorney General, Githu Muigai is also ready and convinced that all steps have been taken to ensure a free and fair election. He noted that Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is an independent institution and nobody will interfere with the activities of the institution. He called upon the Civil Servants to remain neutral in the on-going elections. There have been complaints during the campaigns that certain civil servants have been taking sides while providing material support to the political parties. Githu says government of Kenya is ready to work with the judiciary on all the matters likely to arise. He also said the lack of a Deputy Chief Justice will not impede the work of judiciary saying the highest ranked judge of the High Court will conduct the swearing in, if need be. The Director of Public Prosecution, Kiriako Tobiko noted that a team of 35 officers from his office have been trained and will be sent out to investigate any cases of electoral malpractice. The team that will be unveiled on Thursday will have guidelines of how to investigate electoral malpractices. The team will be on call for 24 hours during the Election Day and after. Draft charge sheets are also at the ready. He also warned that the Civil servants found taking part in partisan politics will be prosecuted. Isaack Hassan, the IEBC chairman, urged the political parties and the candidates to observe the code of conduct that they signed with IEBC. The code of conduct among of other things binds candidates to accept and submit to the authority of IEBC, as the body in charge of these elections. It also requires candidates to accept results and in the event of a dispute, resolve it through the courts of law. The code also binds the parties and their candidates to be peaceful and free of violence. Hassan asked voters to be peaceful, vote and go home. He warned against gathering at the polling stations as some candidates have requested their voters to do so. The IEBC chair argues that since candidates have polling agents, there is no need to camp at the polling station waiting for the tallying to begin. Hassan assured Kenyans that IEBC is not like the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya saying the body is now more professional since it oversaw a referendum and various by-elections. The police are also ready to make sure there is a smooth running of events. The Inspector General of Police, David Kimaiyo says 99,000 officers drawn from different police and military units have been deployed. The deployment will cover the polling stations and hot spots. He was quick to note that the hot spots are dynamic and not static noting that the officers will be ready for any eventuality. He promised security to all Kenyans round the clock. So far, the police have arrested more than 100 people during the political nominations and campaign. Most of these suspects have been presented in court and their cases are on-going. Kimaiyo urged the all Kenyans to take enough rest a day before elections, and be sober on the actual day to avoid temptations. He advised people who want to demonstrate to do so after notifying the police. Kinuthia Wamwani, chairperson Transitional Authority, says his office will ensure a smooth transition of the new form of government. In the new government there will be Senators, Governors, and Women Representatives of the 47 Counties. The additional offices will require premises for operation, something the Authority says has already established. Also of importance is the budget for operations in the Counties. Wamwangi says the Authority has put in budgets for the first quarter, March to June, before the next budget is read. The Authority has also identified offices for new governors as well as for the County Assemblies. It is now up to the Kenyans to ensure peaceful elections creating a different path of political dispensation. In 2007 post-election violence dented the image of Kenya. The events saw more than 1000 people killed and 650,000 displaced.

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