Home Business Raila now wants IEBC scrapped, Kenya to adopt US-style devolved electoral system

Raila now wants IEBC scrapped, Kenya to adopt US-style devolved electoral system

by kenya-tribune

Opposition leader Raila Odinga wants the centralised, national elections management system scrapped and the country to adopt a county-based, regional arrangement akin to the United States style.

According to Mr Odinga, if the electoral body is devolved into regions or counties, it would increase credibility and transparency unlike the current situation in Kenya where it is centralised.

He also proposed that political parties need to be allowed to second their members to be part of the electoral agency.

“There is always the question of centralisation of election management. Do we need one electoral body to manage our elections or should elections management be devolved to the state regions or counties as in the case of the United States? Should parties be allowed to second their members to the election management bodies? My answer to these two questions is yes,” said Mr Odinga.

The Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition boss was speaking at the 14th edition of the Leadership Annual Conference and Awards in Abuja, Nigeria, on Tuesday.

In the US, the electoral system is decentralised and while its Constitution does set parameters for the picking of federal officials, state law — not federal — regulates most aspects, including primary elections.

All elections in America — federal, state and local — are administered by the individual states, with many aspects of the system’s operations delegated to the county or local level.

Technology concerns

Mr Odinga also raised concerns about the adoption of technology in elections, arguing that they have been compromised.

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addressing a rally at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi County

Azimio leader Raila Odinga addressing a rally at Jacaranda grounds in Nairobi County on January 29, 2023. 

Photo credit: Dennis Onsongo | Nation Media Group

“There is a need to rethink the use of technology. Either we adopt reliable election technology, including voting machines that generate a voter-verifiable audit trail, so voters can confirm that their choices are being recorded accurately, or we go fully manual,” Mr Odinga said.

He added: “The Supreme Court ruled that the technology used in the 2022 polls met the constitutional standards of integrity, verifiability, security and transparency, it is unclear on what objective criteria the Supreme Court arrived at this conclusion.”

Mr Odinga said the existing electoral laws have not been able to protect the integrity of elections.

“Existing electoral laws are not seen to assemble an election system that people believe is transparent, accountable and democratic. There is, therefore, a need for further reforms to make the voting process more accessible and reliably enhance protection against mistakes, irregularities, confusion and fraud,” he said.

Mr Odinga said if the issues surrounding the 2022 August General Election are not dealt with fully, there is a likelihood of voter apathy come 2027.

“Kenyans may lose all faith and decide to boycott future elections because they believe that their votes do not matter. Kenya has become a laboratory for bad election practices and others borrow in the continent,” said Mr Odinga.

The Azimio camp has been holding protest meetings, with two lined up for tomorrow in Kibra and another next Friday in Mavoko, to push the Kenya Kwanza administration to engage the Mr Odinga-led team in constituting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

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