Calls for immediate polls in bad taste

The impasse in the negotiations towards appointment of the coalition Cabinet has provoked calls for fresh general elections.

Politicians claiming to speak for both the main protagonists in Kenya’s political stalemate, PNU and ODM, have said their respective parties are ready for elections if the differences that have bogged down things are not resolved.

Such talk must be recognised for the political grandstanding that it is, and halted before it becomes a chorus.

The fact is that Kenya is nowhere near ready for elections. A country struggling to deal with the wounds of a violent post-electoral dispute simply cannot go to polls before the factors that led to such a dangerous situation are addressed.

Elections can only be called once the ongoing mediation process looking for resolutions to the countries deep-seated fissures is completed.

It should be obvious that we cannot, for instance, go to the polls under the Electoral Commission of Kenya as presently constituted. Nor can we do it before investigations into what went wrong is concluded and recommendations instituted.

Electoral reform, in any case, is just one element of the far-reaching reforms that must be instituted if our democratic will not, in future, lead to violence.

There must be a far-reaching constitutional review to provide a more just and equitable society. This is a process that is hardly off the ground yet, and which is unlikely to be complete within a year.

It is a process that will only really get moving in earnest once the terms of the National Accord and Reconciliation Act are fulfilled and a Grand Coalition government is in place.

Instead of making shortsighted demands, we should be wondering whether pending civic and parliamentary by-elections should be put on hold until such a time there is a credible institution in place to manage the polls.

We are still dealing with the traumatic aftermath of the December 2007 General Election. Not until that is way behind us should we even think of any return to the ballot box.

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