KENYA: Election Audit Within a Year After Polls, Feature in Proposed Constitutional Amendments by Catholic Bishops

By Arnold Neliba

NAIROBI, OCTOBER 3, 2023 (CISA)-The Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) is proposing an amendment to the constitution to provide for an independent audit of the presidential elections within one year after elections to address recurrent doubts about the electoral process that have been the cause of post-election conflicts.

This proposal is among the list of amendments detailed in a 10-page document presented to the National Dialogue Committee constituted by President William Ruto and Opposition leader Raila Odinga to help identify and address national issues.

“The doubts about the electoral process and the results have been the cause of conflicts. We have lost lives and properties and the economy is affected in electoral violence,” reads the memorandum, which further suggests the removal of the evaluation function from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

To help solve controversies around the selection process and to manage the perceived conflict of interest by the president in appointing the chairperson and commissioners of the IEBC, the bishops suggest tightening the constitution to provide for a fair and transparent election and appointment process of the chairperson and commissioners.

“Amend the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Act to provide for an acceptable selection process. Amend either Article 88 or 250 to provide for an independent body to appoint the Chairman and the commissioners. The selection process should involve all the major stakeholders and not only the political parties. Amend the IEBC Act to provide for the vetting of the IEBC Secretariat staff. Amend the IEBC Act to provide that the field staff shall be hired on a need basis,” the bishops propose.

On the disputed issue around boundary delimitation, the bishops suggest an amendment to the constitution to correct the disparity and provide a different formula for delimitation of counties, constituencies and wards as opposed to the initial formula, which is based on population and a few others created politically.

Though not opposed to the entrenchment of the funds in the constitution through the National Government Constituency Development Fund (NGCDF), the bishops are opposed to the breach of the principles of separation of powers, and checks and balances.

“The Legislators should not be involved in executive duties. Stop the introduction of the Senate Oversight Fund,” they said calling for an amendment to the respective fund’s Acts to provide that the funds shall be managed by the executive branch of the counties or the local national government administration.

While calling for the introduction of the office of the leader of the opposition, the bishops suggest scrapping of the title of Prime Cabinet Secretary terming it ‘not necessary’.

To help stop the culture of political defections and poaching from rival camps against the principles of multiparty democracy, which has necessitated the passage of bad legislation, approval of bad policies, corruption and impunity, the bishops suggest that in the case a member defects, the political parties Act “to provide that a by-election must be held.”

Other amendments suggested by KCCB touch on Governance issues including promotion of National Unity and inclusivity in public appointments against discrimination, promoting equitable allocation of funds and projects and collaboration between government and the opposition.

The bishops also have stressed calls to have the size of parliament cut down to reduce cost burden, and that it should start by reducing the electoral units in the forthcoming delimitation exercise.

Issues on, social security, health, hunger, accessible housing, and confusion about the new education system, its financing and facilities were also raised in the siting on Wednesday, October 3 at Bomas, Nairobi.