BY STEVE JOHNSON
A Kenyan-born US based journalist was feted on Thursday for exemplary coverage of the 2017 Kenyan general election. BMJ Muriithi, who is a multimedia specialist, received the award at a ceremony held at the Voice America headquarters (VOA) in Washington DC.
While presenting the Superior Accomplishment Award, the agency’s Africa Division Chief, Neggusie Mengesha, praised the journalist for “outstanding reporting and going beyond the call of duty” while covering the election in the East African nation for radio, TV and online platforms.
Muriithi was among thousands of journalists representing international media organizations who traversed the country and extensively covered the events relating to the much publicized exercise in August – including the campaigns, the voting, result tallying, the announcement of the results and the aftereffects.
“I am elated for this recognition but must hasten to add that it was team work that made the reportage have the desired effect and impact. I can’t forget to thank our audience across the globe. as well as all my colleagues who made it possible,” said Muriithi who wore a huge smile. ‘These stories must be told as objectively as possible especially in this age of Fake News phenomenon,” he added.
The presidential poll is set to be repeated on October 26th after the results were overturned by the Supreme court owing to what the majority judges on the petition panel called ‘irregularities and illegalities” during the exercise.
On 28 August, the Kenyan Supreme Court heard Mr Odinga’s arguments for the first time. Permission was granted to allow two agents of both the ruling party and Odinga’s NASA party to audit the IEBC results, though Odinga’s lawyer James Orengo, alleged afterwards that the IEBC was denying his team full access to the servers and other equipment that transmitted results from polling stations to the tallying centre despite the court allowing “read-only” access.
Closing arguments then concluded on 29 August and it was announced that the court would make a decision on 1 September surrounding the results of the presidential election. It was later announced on 30 August that the IEBC had submitted all result forms for scrutiny to give the Supreme Court a clear picture on how Kenyans voted during the elections.
On 1 September, the Supreme Court nullified Kenyatta’s election victory and ordered that a new presidential election take place within 60 days.
On 5 September the IEBC set the next presidential election to be held on 17 October. However, Odinga announced he would not participate in a new presidential election without “legal and constitutional guarantees” against alleged electoral fraud. However, It was later announced on 21 September that the election would be delayed until 26 October after the IEBC sought more time to prepare for the voting processes. The same day, IEBC Legal Affairs officer Praxedes Tororey succumbed to sustained pressure from NASA and resigned from her post.
Following several aborted meetings between IEBC and representatives of the political parties, NASA annonced that its supporters would be holding demonstrations every Monday and Friday, until the electoral body fulfills the following demands:
- Appoint and gazette returning officers not among the Constituency Election Coordinators in consultations with political parties and candidates.
- Establishment of a technical monitoring committee with representatives of the main political parties, coalitions or candidates to oversee implementation of the technology in use.
- Stop use of Al-Ghurair to print ballot papers and results declaration forms
- All Forms 34Bs should be pre-printed indicating the names of polling stations in the constituency and names of candidates
- Elections results to be announced at the Constituency level. Results sent electronically must be accompanied by corresponding statutory result declaration forms
- Candidates’ agents should be part of receiving teams at the constituency and national tallying centers, and be allowed to confirm entries before transmission
- Establish defined roles of the security agencies and eliminate undue influence by the provincial administration and other public officials
In the meantime, Jubilee members of parliament introduced a bill in parliament seeking to change some of the electoral laws preferably before the date of the repeat poll.
“The journalist has reported on all these issues with dedication and exemplary professionalism,” read part of the message on the certificate.
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