A heated pre-election season in Kenya has seen quite a number of things go wrong. Still, most Kenyans are anticipating a post-election period that will not be marked at all by violence.
There are quite a number of things to do to make sure that violence does not occur after the elections and one of the most important is making sure that not only is the election free and fair but Kenyans, in general, believe that it is.
A quick example of just how important this is is Gambia’s December elections. Prior to the elections, the strongman President Yahya Jammeh had described the election process as unassailable. After the elections, Jammeh had conceded to President Adama Barrow. A few days later, however, Gambia’s election body owned up to a mistake that reduced the margin of President Barrow’s win.
It was then that a drawn out stand still between Jammeh and President Barrow threatened the peace of the Gambia and called up common fears of post-election violence in Africa.
The pre-election season is the time to lay the stage for free and fair elections and Kenya has not been doing well so far. The main opposition party was forced to postpone its primaries after a warehouse storing its ballot papers was stormed this week.
Last week, the ruling Jubilee party canceled all of its primaries because organizers ran out of ballot papers. The shortfall had been explained away by them saying; “nobody expected the kind of turnout we saw.”
Some primaries did go ahead as planned but in Western Kenya, police fired teargas on voters who claimed vote rigging. In central Kenya, angry residents burned ballots to protest missing candidate names.
Kenya’s pre-election season needs a change of narrative
All this make for a rough picture of Kenya’s pre-election season and the country is in desperate need of a change of narrative and they have looked to an international body to provide it.
Kenya’s voter registration poll will be undergoing an audit by international auditing firm KPMG. A massive voter drive saw an increase in the number of registered voters by almost 40% since the last election. There have, however, been critics who say that the voter roll includes underage voters, dead people, and duplicate registrations.
KPMG will be checking the names of voters against the government’s birth and death registers, housing, and population censuses, and recently issued passports and national identification cards. The firm will then deliver its report to Kenya’s election board in early May.
Considering that Kenya’s birth and death records, as well as census data, are incomplete, the results KPMG will get will probably not be conclusive but the audit is definitely a step in the right direction.