As part of building the profile of EISA and support to its programme, Felix Odhiambo, EISA Kenya's Country Director, paid a courtesy call on the JB Muturi, the Speaker of the Kenya's Parliament on the 4th of February 2015.
The purpose of the meeting was to discuss EISA Kenya's work with Parliament in spearheading electoral law reform. The Speaker agreed to support EISA's programme and rally the Parliamentary Committee on Justice and Legal Affairs to work with EISA on an Electoral Reform programme.
On 5 and 6 September 2014, EISA convened a multi party consultative workshop for parliamentary political parties in Naivasha. The objective of the workshop was to assess the electoral process/laws within the context of 2013 elections and make recommendations for improving the election sector laws
The workshop was attended by the main parliamentary parties drawn from both sides of the political divide. The ruling coalition was headed by Johnson Sakaja (Chairman of TNA) and Senator Stephen Sang of URP (Jubilee Coalition. The Cord Coalition was headed by Senator Agnes Zani (ODM), Abdikadir Aden ODM, Dr Eseli Simiyu Ford Kenya among others.
The methodology of the workshop was a combination of expert presentations, recommendations by the respective coalitions/parties, and group discussions that isolated key recommendations along the following thematic areas; Elections Administration and Management, Voter Registration, Political Parties, Campaigns, Election Day Activities, Election Dispute Resolution.
Following the workshop in Naivasha, Citizen Television network invited Hon Stephen Sang (Jubilee) and Hon. Abdikadir Aden (CORD) to the breakfast show to discuss the Naivasha meeting especially the justification for commencing electoral reforms in Kenya. Throughout the show, reference was made to the Naivasha meeting including the deliberations and recommendations reached. Invitations to the two legislators was sent through EISA. The show was held on Tuesday 9th September 2014.
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With the aim of strengthening election dispute resolution in the post-election period, EISA Kenya, jointly with the Judiciary Working Committee on Elections Preparations and the Judiciary Training Institute (JTI) carried out a series of trainings targeting various judicial officers mandated to deal with the cases. Specifically, the institutions trained registrars and deputy registrars in handling election disputes that were to be filed arising from the conduct of the March general elections. It was important to target these officials given that they are tasked with specific case management roles that are important to the effective and efficient dispute resolution of petitions.
An important achievement was the development of a uniform approach to determining the cases that were filed. While this was guided by statutory regulations, aspects like pre-trial conferences were discussed during this training and a systematic plan developed which was adopted by the judges and magistrates respectively in managing their course lists and hearing the petitions. This drastically reduced the time the cases took to commence, and deprived advocates an opportunity for endless adjournment on technicalities. A direct result of this training was that parties were able to file competent petitions as per the guidelines developed during this intervention. This is evidenced by the inordinately low number (only 2 of 181 petitions) of petitions struck out for non-compliance with the rules.
Similarly a colloquium of the bench mandated to hear all election disputes arising from the conduct of the elections were convened bringing together all the judges and magistrates who were to hear the disputes filed and who had been assigned cases by the Chief Justice. The direct impact of this intervention can be discerned from rulings and judgments issued by judicial officers on the cases they are handling. The courts had previously determined petitions summarily and on technicalities. Rulings emerging from disputes challenging the results from the 2013 general elections demonstrated that the courts made a concerted effort to accommodate parties and resolve disputes on their merits as opposed to placing an over reliance on technicalities. Another positive impact can be discerned from the acceptability by parties of the decisions made by the courts in those petitions. Very few appeals have been lodged from the determination of the courts on the disputes handled.
During this reporting period EISA was able to forge a working relationship with the Judiciary. The relationship was informed by EISA's expertise in electoral matters, and the overwhelming nature of electoral disputes the Judiciary would most likely deal with after the elections. In particular, EISA was invited by the Judiciary working Committee (appointed by the Chief Justice of the Republic to take the lead in developing synergies on the best strategies of resolving electoral disputes) to a consultative meeting. The objective of the meeting was for the two organisations to channel out potential areas of collaboration and support that the Working Group may need from EISA in fulfilling its mandate. Amongst the agreed areas of partnership were; assistance in developing election petition rules; training of judicial officers on electoral and political processes and dispute resolution; and research services on electoral related issues and best practices.
EISA provided support to the development of the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Act 2011 and to the development of the Political Parties Act 2011. As part of enhancing policy interaction between parliament and the CSOs in Kenya, EISA convened a multi-sectoral forum on the IEBC Act 2011. The forum succeeded in building the requisite consensus for the development of the Act. Indeed, consensus reached by the stakeholders was crucial in advancing the agenda for the implementation of the Constitution and, in particular, establishing the new electoral management body ahead of the next general election. Acknowledging these efforts while opening the new session of parliament on 21st March 2011, President Kibaki noted that "the IEBC Bill soon to be tabled in parliament was a product of extensive multi stakeholders consultation". EISA's support to the Political Parties Act 2011 centred on convening a multi-sectoral forum to review the existing Political Parties Act (2007), supporting a technical committee retreat to collate, analyse and develop the draft Bill and a plenary to adopt the draft Bill (now PPA 2011).
EISA convened a planning and strategic review meeting for key civil societies in Kenya working in the field of governance and democracy. The meeting was aimed at reviewing the specific activities that each organisation was conducting under Representation, Devolution, Legislature and Executive Chapters in the new Constitution. The meeting not only succeeded in exploring ways in which the efforts of the various organisations could be harmonised and complemented, but also saw EISA 's nomination to act as a focal point on electoral and political party legislation for the CSO Forum.
For the new Constitution to function effectively, Parliament is required to pass at least 49 pieces of legislation. Parliament therefore requires the support of all key stakeholders to meet this enormous task as laid out in the timeline. EISA's contribution in this regard was based on consultations held with key partners, which necessitated EISA to tailor its legislative programme to focus on fostering close working relations between Parliament, CSOs, political parties and non-state actors. While in the past these sectors have interacted, the absence of a formalised structure for interaction was lacking, and where it existed, it needed to be strengthened. To this end EISA facilitated the establishment of a platform where key institutions and CSOs could engage Members of Parliament in dialogue aimed at fast tracking implementation of the Constitution. Due to its pivotal role in establishing a formalised structure between key sectors on the implementation of the new constitution, EISA was subsequently mandated to convene policy dialogues on the Chapters of Representation (Chapter 7) Legislature (Chapter 8), Executive (Chapter 10) and Devolution (Chapter 11) of the new Constitution.