24 November 2012

East Africa: Region to Send 30 Long-Term Observers for Kenya Elections

The East African Community (EAC) will send long and short term observers to monitor Kenya's general election slated for March 4, 2013.

This decision was reached in Nairobi over the weekend at the close of the meeting of Experts on the EAC Principles for Election Observation and Evaluation drawn from the five Partner States of Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, Rwanda and Burundi.

"We will deploy a team of 25 short-term and about 30 long-term observers to oversee the electoral process in Kenya which we consider very crucial as it is the first voting in Kenya's new political dispensation under the new constitution," informed Isabella Waffubwa, Principal Political Affairs Officer at the EAC, during a pre-assessment meeting with political parties.

The observers are expected to be deployed beginning early December 2012 and late February 2013.

However, the decision will have to be endorsed by the EAC Council of Ministers which starts its meeting in Nairobi beginning Monday.

Waffubwa said the EAC considers election observers can play an important role in the electoral process that would enhance the credibility of the Kenyan elections and enhance public confidence.

The regional electoral heads and legal and human rights experts have been meeting in Nairobi to review the draft EAC Principles for Election Observation and Evaluation in the Partners. If adopted, Kenya will be the first beneficiary of the Principles.

The EAC, at the invitation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC), also held pre-assessment meetings with other key stakeholders, including Civil Society Organizations, UN agencies, security and the Donor Community.

"The findings would enable the EAC prepare for the deployment of an election observer mission and also serve to support the IEBC in addressing some of the challenges to ensure credible elections", said the EAC Deputy Secretary General in Charge of Political Federation, Dr Julius Rotich.

"The challenges are enormous but we are confident that the Kenya elections will be a success story," the participants said.

They also echoed for peaceful polls in Kenya, saying that Nairobi's smooth conduct of the general elections would have an impact to the region.

Head of Burundi delegation Ambassador Pierre Clavier called on the political parties to demonstrate tolerance during the electoral process and announcement of results.

"Democracy is suffering because of political parties' leaders do not appreciate and embrace political competition," he told the participants, which included registrars of political parties, lawyers, activists, human rights experts, journalists and government policy officers.

Dr Rotich said the Kenya must take all steps to ensure it avoid the pit falls of 2007 that led to the post-election violence which paralyzed operations in the country and trade within the five-member bloc."You cannot do anything if don't have proper elections.

If you look back at what happened during 2007-2008 we were paralyzed, and we would really like to avoid such situations in any partner states."

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