Event Reports


Conference on Preparing for Elections in a Transitional Society: Kenya's Preparedness for Elections

The 2012 Annual Jurists Conference on the theme "Preparing for Elections in a Transitional Society: Kenya's Preparedness for Elections" was hosted by ICJ Kenya in collaboration with Konrad Adenauer Stiftung between 14th and 18th August 2012 at Mombasa ContinentalResort in Mombasa, Kenya.

The main focus of the conference was to take stock of the ongoing institutional and legislative reforms in Kenya, and to question whether they are adequate to chart Kenya’s democratic and good governance goals and realize the implementation of the Constitution particularly in the wake of the infamous 2007 disputed elections.

A documentary was shown to the participants as a way of reflecting on what went wrong in 2007 which exhibited issues of hate speech in the build up to the elections; the significant amount of pre-election violence especially at the political parties’ nomination stage; the challenges of accurate tallying and releasing of elections results especially at the national tallying centre.

The conference then endeavoured to take stock of what had been done to deal with the 2007 wrongs by inter alia reviewing the reports and recommendations of the Kriegler Commission (on electoral reforms in Kenya) and Waki Commission (on post-election violence); assessing current initiatives at the domestic level to hold accountable those behind the 2007 post-election violence; as well as addressing the issue of sexual gender-based violence during elections.

Having reflected on what went wrong and the various initiatives that were put in place to address those wrongs, the participants engaged key players in the electoral process to find out their preparedness for the forthcoming elections slated for March next year (2013). The main players in the process who addressed the conference on their preparedness included the police service, the Independent Electoral Commission (IEBC) and the National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC).

Former Secretary of State of the Federal Republic of Germany- Klaus-Juergen Hedrich, delivered a keynote address in which he shared the German experience in handling elections in particular and the building of a democratic society from the German perspective in general.

Further, the conference took a moment to reflect on the emerging issues and arrangements in Kenya’s electoral arrangement. Here participants deliberated on the question of the impact of the ICC cases on the next elections; the various electoral laws that have been enacted post the promulgation of the new Constitution in 2010; the gender considerations particularly in view of the one-third (1/3) rule, as well as the prospects of having a presidential run-off.

During the deliberations a number of issues were raised which would require immediate attention of all key players in the electoral process if the country is to have peaceful, free and fair elections. Among the key challenges highlighted at the conference include;-

Questionable independence of the IEBC in the wake of the Biometric Voter Register saga in which the executive seem to be orchestrating events.

Slackened voter education, the complexity of the upcoming elections notwithstanding.

Too many laws and regulations being enacted closer to the elections thereby denying the IEBC, government agencies and the public in general time to understand and internalize the content and their implications.

Insecurity as a result of continued existence of militia and other outlawed groups as well as the Al Shabaab and threats from other terror groups

Slow pace as regards police reforms

Imbalanced governance reform where the executive and the legislature are far behind the progress made by the judiciary hence posing the first real threat to the independence and efficiency of the judiciary

Continued impunity and resistance to full implementation of the constitution by some powerful political elite

Lack of accountability on Post Election Violence cases

Enslaved legislature which seems to be captive to private interests and not public interest

Political Parties Act that is not enforced fully – no appointment of Registrar of Parties to date; no functional Political Parties Tribunal to date etc.

Notable presenters at the conference included;

oFormer Secretary of State of the Federal Republic of Germany- Klaus-Juergen Hedrich, who delivered a keynote address on day one of the conference by sharing the German experience,

Herr. Klaus-Juergen Hedrich delivering his speech

oProf. Githu Mugai, the Attorney General of the Republic of Kenya who officially opened the conference

oHon. Kenneth Marende, the Speaker of the National Assembly of the Republic of Kenya who officially closed the conference

oJustice David Maraga, Court of Appeal Judge and a member of the Judiciary Working Committee on Elections who presented on the role of the Judiciary in the upcoming Elections

oMs Shumbana Karume, the Head of Democracy and Elections Unit, AU’s Political Affairs Department who presented on ‘The role of the AU in ensuring democratic transition in Africa’

oMs Catherine Mumma who provided Insights on Key recommendations by the Kriegler and Waki reports

oCommissioner Mohammed Alawi, IEBC - IEBC: Mandate Preparedness For 2013 General Elections

oCommissioner Halakhe D. Waqo, NCIC - Ensuring Peace and Cohesion before, during and after elections:The Role of NCIC

oMr. John Githongo, former anti-corruption Czar– The impact of ICC cases on Kenya’s next elections

oMr. Tom Kagwe, Member of Independent Policing Oversight Authority (IPOA) - Policing In Kenya Reforms Before, During and After the Upcoming Elections

oMr. Eric Kiraithe, Police Spokesman - Lessons From The 2007 Elections: The National Police Service

oDr. Karuti Kanyinga, Institute for Development Studies, University of Nairobi - Votes and violence in Kenya A Reflection on the post-2007 Election Crisis

oDr. Sam Thenya, Group CEO, Nairobi Women’s Hospital - The Sexual Gender Based Violence: Responses to SGBV in the context of Election Preparedness

oMr. Erastus Wamugo, Advocate - Reckoning with Two Rounds: Some Notes on the Coming Presidential Election

oMs Daisy Amdani - Gender Considerations In Kenya’s Electoral Arrangements; The Challenges And Opportunities

oMs Kethi Kilonzo, Advocate - Reflections On The Trial And Management Of Election Petitions In Kenya

oMr Willis Otieno, EISA - Gaps In Kenya’s Electoral Law

The Conference drew participants from various sectors. They included judges, lawyers, state law officers, politicians, electoral bodies, security agencies, civil society, academia and the media from Kenya and beyond. Among the notable participants included Justice Mbogholi Msagha, Principal Judge; the Chairman of the Constitutional Implementation Commission Mr. Charles Nyachae; Dr. Mutuma Ruteere- UN Special Rapporteur on Xenophobia and other related intolerance; Justice Daniel Musinga; Justice Hellen Omondi; Justice David Majanja among others.

Group photo, Jurists Conference 2012 KAS