Kivuitu should just put up or shape out

Electoral Commission chairman Mr Samuel Kivuitu is either living in dreamland, in denial or is lately peddler of untruths. The former Member of Parliament, our highest law making institution, and lawyer by calling, could also be unappreciative of the impact of the bungled elections on Kenya.

After the wave of killings, displacement and destruction, which will haunt us for long time, Kivuitu and his team should at least bridle their tongues.

This week Mr Kivuitu, who has been on a luckless ego-trip, putting up intrusive public relation stunts to paint the disgraced ECK snow white, told us the electoral body would not be on the searchlight of the independent review team.

In yet another faint-hearted defence of ECK against the obvious, he said his team would not appear before the commission chaired by South African retired judge, Mr Johann Kriegler, as a "principal subject of investigation".

He also took on the media and some non-governmental organisations, claiming they were out to "mislead the public and destroy the commission’s credibility".

Yet if there is one person who has incinerated ECK’s image it is Kivuitu himself. His reckless and unsolicited statements during counting and re-tallying of the presidential votes at Kenyatta International Conference Centre last December still grit the ear and stab the conscience of the nation.

Then, he told us he was not in control and could not even reach some of his officers in the field. Many recall with shock his cantankerous exchanges with politicians in the briefing hall, and his awkward and misplaced remonstrations that he was not a coward and a man dies once.

Kivuitu has never told the nation why the security detail, in the style of mundane African coups, was thrown around at the time. It was indeed Kivuitu, who announced the disputed results away from the independent press, followed later by the hurried drive to State House to ‘witness’ the swearing in of President Kibaki.

His own admission

What followed was comical, with Kivuitu infamously

saying he did not know if President Kibaki won fairly, and the stinger that vital ECK records at KICC were being tampered with, without his permission or knowledge. There are also confessions by ECK that it did indeed mishandle the election.

Kivuitu, who exhibits the character of a man struggling with his conscience, is on record saying he released the results under duress from the party that claimed victory and the one that rushed into a coalition with Kibaki.

Yes, it is true, as Kivuitu says, the Kriegler Commission would be inquiring into Kenya’s electoral process and its application and impact on the flawed elections. It will also recommend reforms to help us avoid such a catastrophe in future.

But what Kivuitu is not telling us is that the legal mandate of the commission includes "investigating the vote counting and tallying for the entire election with special attention on the presidential elections, to assess the integrity of the results…"

It also includes "investigation into the organisation and conduct of the 2007 electoral operations including… vote tabulation and results processing, and dispute resolution.’’

Finally, and which should make Kivuitu uncomfortable — on top of the incessant calls to quit honourably — the Kriegler commission will make its findings public. Kivuitu needs to be told that the visiting commission members and the international mediators’ sojourn in Kenya were not about tea sessions but the survival of the nation.

The commission has a job to do, and Kivuitu’s incessant cries will not go far. It is part of healing the bleeding and scarred nation. The Kriegler Commission does not need his tutelage, neither does Kenya.

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