KENYA: Clerics Condemn Culture of Secrecy in Election, Urge IEBC to Communicate Regularly

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, JULY 26, 2022 (CISA)-As the country stares at another hotly contested General Elections in about three weeks, Religious leaders in Kenya have called on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to break the chains of secrecy in elections by openly communicating to the public on preparations through daily pressers.

The clerics in a joint briefing by the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) asked the electoral body to borrow from the Ministry of Health on how they handled the Covid-19 crisis by issuing daily public pressers.

“Managing an election is a public duty. It is funded by public funds. So there are no secrets in an election. Everything should be laid bare and people should know what to expect the following day. And we ask IEBC to take a cue from the ministry of health on covid-19 that there was crisis management communication so that every day we get a brief. We are three weeks away from the elections,” said Rev Canon Chris Kinyanjui, Secretary General of NCCK.

“The question of whether Kenya is ready for elections is a question IEBC ought to answer. We are also asking them to publicly explain to the people. What is worrying is what has happened in the past weekend between the police and the IEBC. Instead of fighting, we ask them to sit down and reach a consensus as opposed to continuous media briefings that are causing anxiety across the country,” he added.

In a statement released during the presser and read by Bishop John Oballa, Chairman of the Catholic Justice and Peace Department of KCCB, the clerics commented on the counter-accusations between the IEBC and Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) and called for dialogue stressing that “Security of the nation and the elections is very crucial and should not be processed through the media.”

“We advise the IEBC and the National Police Service to dialogue over the subject issue with dignity, national respect and public trust, Church leaders are ready and available to mediate. Further, we call upon all ministries, departments and agencies playing a role in the general elections to use the Multi-Sectoral Approach. No agency can deliver free and fair elections on its own,” the church leaders warned.

As part of the strategies laid out to promote synergy between the different players in the elections, the religious leaders have confirmed scheduled series of meetings with the IEBC, the police, and the justice system to better the polls.

“As the religious leaders we can assure you that based on our assessment of the last elections, the departments that are running elections are more prepared than they were in the last election. We have also seen that the assessment across the country by NCIC and other bodies assuring us that this will be a more peaceful election,” Rev Canon Kinyanjui said.

In response to the general preparedness of the IEBC for the August 9 elections, the clerics confirmed their satisfaction with the preparedness while calling upon all the actors to safeguard and consolidate the peace that Kenyans are expecting after the polls.