Presdient Ruto signs law to reconstitute Kenya’s electoral body amid crisis

KENYA’S President William Ruto signed a pivotal law on Tuesday, establishing a panel to appoint members of the electoral body. This move aims to address criticisms and stabilise his presidency amidst ongoing political tensions. The reconstitution of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) emerged as a significant point during recent mass protests, marking the most severe crisis in Ruto’s nearly two-year tenure.

The IEBC was embroiled in controversy following the 2022 election that brought Ruto to power. Four out of seven commissioners disowned the election results, leading to their subsequent departure from the commission. ‘Today’s signing marks the beginning of the reconstitution of the IEBC and testifies to our country’s ability to attend to its pressing issues and priorities through routine dialogue,’ Ruto stated during a media briefing in Nairobi, attended by opposition leaders.

This legislative move is the latest in Ruto’s series of concessions, following the recent repeal of an unpopular finance bill intended to alleviate the government’s debt burden. The bill had sparked widespread protests, particularly among young Kenyans, who opposed the proposed tax hikes that exacerbated the existing economic hardships.

Ruto also announced a six-day national dialogue forum set to begin on Monday, July 15. This forum will involve representatives from political parties, religious groups, civil society, employers, and youth to discuss pressing national issues. Topics on the agenda include public debt, government accountability, corruption, tribalism, and youth employment.

Since the protests began on June 18, the national rights commission reports that at least 39 people have lost their lives. Although the intensity of the rallies has diminished, the demonstrations have evolved into a broader campaign against perceived state extravagance and corruption, with calls for Ruto’s resignation.

Ruto’s initiative to reconstitute the IEBC and engage in national dialogue highlights his administration’s efforts to navigate the political turmoil and address the grievances of the Kenyan populace. This approach aims to foster a more inclusive and accountable governance structure, essential for the country’s stability and development.

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