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THE REV. CANON PETER KARANJA
THE GENERAL SECRETARY
THE MULTI-SECTORAL FORUM ON I.E.B.C REFORMS
19th JULY 2016
UFUNGAMANO HOUSE, NAIROBI
Hon. Ekwe Ethuro, Speaker of the Senate of Kenya,
His Excellency Robert Godec, U.S Ambassador to Kenya,
Senators Kiraitu Murungi and James, Co- Chairs, Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on IEBC Reforms,
Bishop Cornelius Korir, Chairman of the Religious Leaders’ Mediation Panel on IEBC Reforms,
All protocols observed,
Brothers and Sisters.
It is my sincere gratitude, to welcome you to Ufungamano on this momentous occasion of the Multi Sectoral Forum on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) reforms. We thank God for his grace that has enabled us to finally convene, as we prepare to carry on with this important conversation, with a view of making an important contribution in the envisaged electoral reforms ahead of next year’s general election.
May I take this earliest opportunity to recognize all of you, for setting aside time out of your busy schedule to be part of this journey. Allow me to especially pay tribute to Ambassador Godec and his colleagues who recently teamed up with religious leaders and other stakeholders to mediate in the IEBC political standoff that had gripped the country.
And so, it is my conviction that the matter at hand is a discussion that is not just very close to our hearts, but indeed that of all Kenyans.
I am sure that we shall all endeavor to proactively engage during these two days, with a view of coming up with critical suggestions that will inform our input to the process of electoral reforms and subsequent submission of memoranda to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on I.E.B.C. In this regard, I am optimistic that at the end of this process, this forum will have shaped our thinking on electoral reforms whose anticipated outcome is credible, peaceful, free and fair 2017 and future elections.
Hon. Speaker, All protocols observed, Brothers and Sisters.
In the recent past, Kenya has been gripped with heightened political activity with the political class, crisscrossing the country in what is obviously seen as early campaigns. Whereas this is expected in any vibrant democracy, the charged political environment, has continued to put the country on edge raising fundamental questions on whether the next elections will be held in a peaceful and free manner. Despite all this, what is clear is the fact that peace and tranquility during the next elections largely hinge on a credible, trusted and effective electoral body.
As we begin this session, Hon. Speaker, I feel obliged to take you through the journey that has informed our intervention on the IEBC matter and subsequently this forum.
In November last year, the National Council of Churches of Kenya convened a scenario building session to review the state of the nation. As is tradition in the Council, such forums are frequently held to discuss a wide range of pressing national issues, whose outcome, not only inform our press statements but also our programmatic interventions going forward. The November exercise reviewed various pressing national issues particularly on the country’s preparedness for the 2017 general elections.
A number of recommendations that were adopted would largely inform the press statement that was issued by the NCCK’s Executive Committee of 2nd December 2015. It was this session of EXCOM that proposed a number of actions on a wide range of issues but more fundamentally touching on electoral reforms.
Cognizant of the fact that the constitutional term of the current commissioners ends soon after next year’s elections scheduled for August, this Executive Committee-the Council’s second policy organ- specifically called on the relevant institutions among them IEBC, to take note of the precarious situation and act urgently to instill confidence in our electoral process and help lower political temperatures that had started to rise.
Incidentally, the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) in February this year, held their meeting and issue a statement not only raising similar issues but also proposals on how to cure emerging concerns.
Shortly afterwards the NCCK convened another EXCOM meeting in April this year and proposed that the IEBC matter be fully addressed to safeguard the credibility of the 2017 general election.
Hon. Speaker, All Protocols observed, Brothers and Sisters,
The positions taken by both KCCB and NCCK on the need for electoral reforms ahead of next year’s elections, resonated well with a majority of Kenyans. However it coincided with the then protracted ugly political contest between the two main political formations of Jubilee and CORD, that degenerated into street protests whose outcome was loss of lives and destruction of property.
It was at this point that together with diplomats, religious leaders decided to proactively engage the two protagonists with a view of breaking the standoff. This engagement also saw us hold meetings with IEBC Commissioners themselves in a bid to understand their side of the story in light of numerous accusations levelled against them.
Allow me not to belabor the point but thank God for His intervention that saw sense prevail and sanity restored on the IEBC matter, essentially giving way to the formation of the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee.
Hon. Speaker, All Protocols observed, Brothers and Sisters
As we gather here, we are all aware of the painful dark history that dots our political landscape, since the advent of multi-party democracy in 1992. Those who care to reflect on our history, remain alive to the painful memories that are associated with previous elections of 1992, 1997 and more recently 2007.
Indeed we are aware that in 2007, Kenya was pushed to the brink of the precipice because of a disputed presidential election outcome that was largely blamed on perceived inefficiencies of the defunct Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK).
And as such, we thank God that through the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee, we have an opportunity to address concerns raised on the current Commissioners of the IEBC and forestall any reason for violence arising out of political disputes. Whereas we commend the formation of the committee whose outcome will inform the way forward, our fidelity to our civic duty must not be compromised. Towards this end, it is incumbent upon all of us to seek to make an informed contribution to the process of strengthening IEBC.
This Hon. Speaker, is the basis as to why religious leaders drawn from different faiths, as well as other non state actors, convened this forum, through which we seek to among other things:
Hon. Speaker, All Protocols observed, Brothers and Sisters.
This Multi Sectoral Forum, draws its membership from the following institutions:
10. Mkenya Daima
Hon. Speaker, All Protocols observed,
As we begin this forum, we know that this process is a political minefield. This calls for patience and determination to navigate the landscape, if envisaged reforms are to be achieved. With this in mind, I implore this eminent forum to remain steadfast in our engagement, be strategic, race against time as we seek solutions that will inform our memorandum and draft bills that we shall submit to the Select Committee.
During its sessions, the forum will receive presentations from experts on a wide range of issues that have carefully been selected, with a view of shaping our overall agenda.
We look forward to working with all stakeholders of goodwill as we formulate the draft bill on IEBC. In the same breath, I wish to remind all Kenyans that the process of reforming IEBC is not an exclusive responsibility of specific groups. The success of this process calls for public participation, hence Kenyans must actively engage and submit their views to the Select Committee.
Hon. Speaker, I wish to conclude by affirming our commitment to moving this conversation to the next level. We look forward to a more robust engagement with all stakeholders. I once again thank you for graciously accepting our invitation and look forward to hearing the message from you and other guests. Thank you!