The New Times (Kigali)

Kenya: EAC to Monitor Kenya's Elections

The East African Community will deploy a team of election observers during the March 4, 2013 Kenya general elections.

This follows an invitation extended by the government of Kenya to the regional body to deploy a 40-member election observer mission.

According to legislators of the East African Assembly, the membership of the Mission has been drawn from all the EAC Partner States except from Kenya and are from different but complementary disciplines.

"The membership includes members of the East African Legislative Assembly, National Electoral Commissions, National Human Rights Commissions, and Youth Representatives from EAC Youth Ambassadors Forum. The nominations were based on the principle of gender balance and youth involvement," said Hon Abdurrahman Kinana, a former speaker of the legislative assembly from Tanzania who will also lead the Mission.

The elections to constitute electing the President, Senators, County Governors, Members of Parliament, Civic Wards and Women County Representatives will also be the first elections held under the new constitution which was passed during the 2010 referendum. They will also be the first general elections run by Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.(IEBC).

Concerns about the country's security situation towards the election period stem from widespread political unrest that characterized the period after the December 2007 general election.

The unrest initially occurred between supporters of opposing political groups following the announcement of results in the presidential poll.

With political parties largely split along ethnic lines, clashes between rival supporters soon took on an ethnic dimension, and attacks against certain ethnic communities occurred. Following a peace deal between Kenya's major political elites, a coalition government was agreed upon and the violence subsided.

Commenting ahead of the deployment, the Community's Secretary General, Dr. Richard Sezibera, said : "The deployment of an Election Observer Mission to the Kenyan Elections was part of EAC's goal to promote democratic governance in line with the fundamental principles of the Community".

"In the long term, the Mission will contribute to strengthening political accountability amongst Partner States, provide an avenue for Partner States to share experiences on election management and facilitate peer learning".

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