Capital FM (Nairobi)

24 April 2012

Kenya: Local Team to Monitor French Poll Runoff

Nairobi, Kenya — A 10-member Kenyan delegation will next Friday visit France to witness the presidential election runoff.

French Ambassador Etienne de Poncins told Capital FM News that the delegation comprising government officials, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and other relevant bodies concerned with elections in Kenya, will witness how the second round of polls is conducted.

"The delegation will assess the two faces of the same coin. How we do it in France for having free, fair and transparent elections. They will also witness the political aspect; how politicians cope with the two rounds elections, how do they recognise and accept to be defeated," he asserted.

During the runoff scheduled for May 6, the competition will be between President Nicolas Sarkozy who garnered 26.1 percent votes and Francois Hollande who got 28.8 percent in partial results according to the Guardian Online.

Poncins said the exercise will be important for Kenya which is also likely to end up in a runoff if no presidential candidate attain 50 percent plus one vote in the next General Election.

He believed during the four-day visit, the delegation will observe preparations before, during and after the second runoff to help them understand how to conduct democratic elections.

According to Poncins, in France people vote for the personality, their programmes and agenda for their country.

He also appreciated that in his country, people are passionate about politics supported by the high turnout of over 80 percent during the first round held on Sunday.

Even with high impossibilities of violence, the ambassador said the French government has put mechanisms in place to prevent and manage violence should it occur, which will be another practice the Kenyan delegation can emulate.

"They can observe the different mechanism in place to prevent hate speech, limit expenditure for political financing. We have a very strict regulation on that, we learnt this from experience and we will share this with the Kenyan delegation," he pledged.

He also pointed at a tradition of fairness and respect of opponents adopted 30 years ago.

To strengthen it, France subjects the two top presidential candidates to a public debate on television. This, he opines, will be another good opportunity that Kenyans can pick lessons from.

The delegation which will be led by the Justice, National Cohesion and Constitutional Affairs Minister Eugene Wamalwa will be split into two to join the headquarters of each of the presidential candidates.

Other delegates include IEBC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan, National Cohesion and Integration Commission Chair Mzalendo Kibunjia, ODM Chief Whip Jakoyo Midiwo and Centre for Multi-Party Democracy chairman Justin Muturi.

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