The Star (Nairobi)

26 January 2013

Kenya: Election Observers Welcome

editorial

Election observers from the Carter Centre arrived in the country this week to monitor the March 4 polls. Their arrival follows an invitation by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission. This is undoubtedly a move in the right direction.

The practice where international electoral observers visit countries holding elections to monitor the process is increasingly gaining global acceptance and rightly so.

Elections, especially in Africa have had far reaching ramifications. While in some countries they have resulted in the dethronement of despots and ushered in sound and credible leadership, other countries have witnessed violence on unprecedented scale as a result of disputed polls.

Kenya is one such country that was pushed right to the brink of the precipice following the contested 2007 presidential elections. We have also just witnessed pockets of violence and expression of fury in the aftermath of the recently held party nominations.

It cannot be ruled out that one of the reasons why the nominations engendered protests is that the process was not keenly monitored. The absence of neutral observers rid the exercise of any semblance of credibility opening it to all manner of disputes.

If an exercise preceding the major general election can cause us such distress it is only logical that we take caution and see to it that measures are put in place to avert eruption of violence come the March 4 polls.

And one of the ways of ensuring that this becomes a reality is bringing in internationally acclaimed electoral observers. By the same token, it is incumbent on the country's leadership and citizens to take it upon themselves and ensure that the elections are fair and credible.

As much as it is critical to have external observers, it should not escape our attention that Kenya belongs to us and as a country that subscribes to the tenets of democracy, we have no option but to uphold the same. Anyone out to subvert the process of democracy by rigging elections is an enemy that should be made to face the full force of the law.

QUOTE OF THE DAY: "What this country needs is more unemployed politicians." Angela Davis, a US activist, was born on January 26, 1944

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