Press Statement by the Dialogue Reference Group on 2017 General Election
June 8, 2017
SECURING ELECTIONS 2017: LET US WORK FOR PEACEFUL ELECTIONS
The Dialogue Reference Group (DRG) of the Multi Sectoral Forum, has met here at JJ Maccarthy Conference Center, Nairobi to take stock of the state of the nation. As we reviewed the country’s journey towards the 8th August General Elections, we took to heart the message of 1 Peter 5: 6 – “Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time”.
We thus wish to share the following message with the nation.
- 1.PEACEFUL AND CREDIBLE ELECTIONS
This Dialogue Reference Group meeting recognizes that the elections are a cardinal element in the democratic life of any nation. For this reason, Kenyans are taking the August 8th General Elections with the seriousness it deserves, a fact that was clearly manifested by the passionate participation in the Party Primaries last month and the radical increase in the number of independent candidates.
Throughout this electoral process, the primary goal of Kenyans is that in August leaders who will facilitate the achievement of the five desires that we pray for as we sing the National Anthem will assume office. These desires are Justice, Unity, Peace, Liberty and Prosperity.
It is therefore of cardinal importance that the General Elections 2017 be peaceful, credible, free and fair so as to reflect the will of the people.
This Dialogue Reference Group meeting notes that the country has now entered home-stretch in the journey to the August 2017 General Elections, and campaigns have largely kicked off. We therefore wish to highlight the following factors that are crucial for the elections to comply with the constitutional standards.
- 2.READINESS OF THE IEBC
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 mandates the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to organize elections and announce results. As such, the veracity or lack thereof of the August 2017 General Elections rests wholly on the IEBC. There is therefore a great need for the Commission to take various measures to assure the nation of their readiness for the elections. These include:
- The audit and cleaning up of the Voters’ Register needs to be completed urgently and as publicly as possible, noting that a clean and credible voters’ register is really the backbone of democratic elections
- The procurement processes of the various electoral materials and services must be conducted in a transparent manner. Kenyans need to be assured that the firing of the IEBC Procurement Director will not affect the necessary processes.
- There must be open and publicly verifiable testing of the elections related technology, and there must be reassurance to Kenyans that the system will not be prone to hacking attacks that could lead to manipulation of results
- Comprehensive voter education needs to be delivered nationwide to ensure that Kenyans are prepared to participate in the electoral processes effectively
- There is need for cooperation between the IEBC, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, National Police Service and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to ensure that any persons who breach the Electoral Laws are prosecuted speedily so as to bring to an end the pervasive culture of impunity
- The candidates who were not cleared by the EACC should not be allowed by the IEBC to contest in the elections as this will go contrary to the Constitutional desire for integrity
- And quite importantly, the IEBC must endeavour to dispel the prevailing public perception that there is infighting between the Commissioners and the Secretariat. Such internal wrangles can easily result in bungled elections, and religious leaders are available to mediate if necessary.
We further urge the IEBC to make use of local and national level media as well as social media channels to disseminate voter education and elections preparedness information to as many Kenyans as possible. The silence of IEBC on these channels is opening the door for speculative and vitriolic information to be spread using those channels.
- 3.READINESS OF OTHER INSTITUTIONS
This Dialogue Reference Group meeting appreciates that the August 2017 General Elections are different from previous exercises in that interest in the county level positions is extremely high. It is notable that there have been cases of violence against candidates including murder of aspirants, especially those seeking Member of County Assembly positions. Also pervasive are cases of violence targeting women aspirants. This has increased the possibility of deliberate breach of electoral laws as candidates engage in cutthroat competition at all electoral levels.
We therefore call upon the National Police Service, the Judiciary, the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission to play their roles in safeguarding the country by firmly punishing any and all who break the law in the name of campaigns, even at the most local level of wards, in a timely manner.
These institutions must not repeat past failures.
- 4.DECIDING ON LEADERS TO VOTE FOR
This Dialogue Reference Group meeting calls on all Kenyans to recognize that over the next two months, they will be inundated with messages from politicians seeking their votes. Some candidates will attempt to bribe them with money or other items or with promises of preferential treatment in the future.
There are also serious intimidation statements in major coalition strongholds which are seeking to zone the country and suggest that some people may be denied the opportunity to vote for candidates of their choice.
We urge Kenyans to resist these attempts with all their hearts. Remember that the gifts you are given now are not in any way comparable to the damage such corrupt leaders will have on your life once elected.
We strongly recommend that you consider the five elements of our National Anthem – Justice, Unity, Peace, Liberty and Prosperity – and purpose to elect leaders who will promote the same.
- 5.PEACE CHARTERS
This Dialogue Reference Group meeting appreciates that peaceful elections in August 2017 will go a long way in securing the future of our nation. However, the signs on the ground are that there are actors who appear open to provoking violence before, during or after the elections.
We have drafted a Peace Charter that we shall engage various duty bearers in the electoral process and all Kenyans to consider signing up to so that we all commit to securing peace during these elections. Towards this, we will organize a number of national and county level forums where political leaders, candidates and the general public will be given opportunities to sign up to the Peace Charter. Let us all as Kenyans take responsibility for peace in our nation to avoid a recurrence of violence as we had in 2007/08.
In conclusion, we commend all Kenyans for their commitment to peace and good neighbourliness. Let us carry this character trait always so that we essentially agree with God even as we pray through the National Anthem:
O God of all creation, bless this our land and nation
Justice be our shield and defender
May we dwell in unity, peace and liberty
Plenty be found within our borders
We ask all Kenyans to join with us as we pray for Kenya during this period to have peace and that we will have wisdom to elect good leaders in August 2017.
May God bless Kenya now and forever more.
Signed on this 8th day of June 2017 at JJ Maccarthy Conference Center, Nairobi:
|Evangelical Alliance of Kenya|
|Hindu Council of Kenya|
|Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops|
|National Council of Churches of Kenya|
|National Muslim Leaders Forum|
|Organisation of African Instituted Churches|
|Seventh Day Adventist|
|Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims|