The country is barely three months away from the general election and all focus has now shifted to the political party primaries that are currently happening countrywide. The party primaries provide an opportune moment for Kenyans to sift through the list of aspirants presented by the parties they belong to. To enable the electorate to pick ethical, transparent and visionary leaders, political parties have to ensure that the citizens’ voice is respected through free, fair and verifiable party primaries.
Strong county and national assemblies are the cornerstone of democracy and are essential to development as they represent the people, pass laws, and hold both levels of government to account on behalf of the citizenry. Therefore, as the political parties conduct their primaries through the better part of this month, delegations ought to scrutinize and carefully assess their choice candidates as they’re then likely to end up in the assemblies where effective representation should be the guiding theme for leaders.
As the party primaries kick off, both the party members and aspirants should be well informed on the provisions of the party rules through a widespread civic education exercise by the parties. Political Parties should then enforce the primary rules to promote democratic, transparent, fair and peaceful nomination exercises.
Political parties seeking to increase diversity should adopt special measures to ensure a level playing field for candidates in the primaries. One of them being combating the violence that so often erupts during highly contested party primaries. Agencies involved and mandated in ensuring the safety and transparency of party primaries should coordinate to ensure that party primaries are conducted in a free, inclusive and fair manner to all parties involved including the special interest groups. This would encourage the participation of more special interest groups in the parties’ membership and contestation for party tickets.
Political parties should also refrain from being seen as to influence the outcome of the primaries conducted in favour of a few aspirants who may be in the good graces of the party leadership. As parties have severally committed to protecting the peace of the country on August 9th 2022, they should lead by example in their institutions by protecting the sanctity of the process.
Kenya has a long history of political formations being created along ethnic lines that have led to divisive and violent ethnic-charged politics. There have been instances of violence that have been reported in some parts of the country. A recent report detailed the attack of a UDA politician in Mvita, Mombasa County who was shot and injured. Another states that a chopper used by ODM party leader, Raila Odinga was stoned. These among the many spates of violence that have emerged should be a cause for worry and introspection on our approach to this exercise.
As it has been reported in almost every electoral cycle, youth have been perpetrators of chaos and violence during the electoral periods. As the biggest voting bloc thinks about changing the country’s leadership, youth should explore non-destructive and impactful channels to effect the change they so need.
The media on the other hand still has a huge agenda-setting role in this period and should therefore exercise objective and balanced coverage of stories that emerge from party primaries.
In a nutshell, the Independent and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should ensure that it exercises its advisory and logistical role with firmness and authority to ensure that justice is guaranteed.
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