The Supreme Court Ruling on Monday, September 5, attracted mixed reactions from Kenyans and supporters of the country’s two major political formations.
While those inclined to President-elect William Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza Alliance are in jubilation, a section of Raila Odinga’s supporters are disoriented and frustrated by the final verdict.
This sparked uproar with a section of voters threatening to deregister from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) list of voters.
Forms purported to be used in the process of withdrawal from the list of voters surfaced online whilst balming Kenya’s independent institutions for lack of transparency and independence.
An IEBC official coordinates voters at a polling station in the 2013 General Elections.
IEBC Kenyans.co.ke conducted a fact check to ascertain whether the forms are legitimate and the process one would have to follow to disenroll from the list of voters.
According to Bob Mkangi, a constitutional lawyer, the law does not provide for deregistration as a voter at the moment.
However, he maintains that any Kenyan citizen has the liberty to choose whether to take part in an election or not.
“Unfortunately, as the law stands, there is no provision for this. A few months ago there were some Kenyans who went to court over this.
“A registered voter may however opt not to participate in an election. Kenya does not have compulsory voting like it is in Brazil (18-70yrs old) and Australia,” Mkangi told Kenyans.co.ke.
Mkangi further noted that the law should allow for citizens to register or deregister at will.
“I, however, think that there should be provision for a Kenyan who has registered as a voter, and who later feels that they do not want to continue to have the personality, to deregister,” he added.
Duncan Okatch- a constitutional lawyer concurred. According to the legal mind, voting is a civic duty in which one has the liberty to participate or not.
“It is not an automatic requirement that any citizen becomes a voter at the age of 18 years. It is a voluntary, civic duty which no one can force you to be part of,” Okatch stated.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati handing over an election certificate to President-elect William Ruto at Bomas of Kenya on August 15, 2022
Kenyans.co.ke However, Duncan holds that deregistering as a voter is not the ultimate solution for Kenyans who have lost faith and trust in the Kenyan electoral process.
The fact that the country is forced to reconcile half of the Kenyan voters who are dissatisfied after elections, he underlined, necessitates a change in the governance structure.
“The problem is that the governance structure we have is about winners. There is nothing much the people can do, change has to be through constitutional reforms.
“This is a conversation we need to have and ensure inclusion of all Kenyans and that more than three-quarters of Kenyans are satisfied with the election outcome,” he recommended.
The Constitution of Kenya 2010 states that a winner in a presidential election should garner 50 per cent plus one vote of the total cast votes besides having the majority of the voters. Additionally, the winner ought to garner 25 per cent of the votes in more than half of the 47 counties in Kenya.
Despite this threshold, the question of inclusivity of Kenya’s governance structure has been a subject of discussion. The botched Building Bridges Initiative (BBI) constitutional reforms sought to increase inclusivity by expanding the executive wing of the government.
This, according to the proponents, would have helped to curb the “winner take all” situation by the winning party. Opponents, nonetheless, argued that the project was initiated by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his handshake partner, Raila Odinga, who harboured personal interests.
They added that the extra positions created by BBI would bloat the wage bill and pressure the government to increase taxes.
Azimio La Umoja presidential aspirant Raila Odinga (left) and President Uhuru Kenyatta (right) hold copies of the Building Bridges Initiative (BBI).