The New Times (Kigali)

Kenya: Ex-Botswana President to Lead Commonwealth Observers for Kenya Polls

Former Botswana President Festus Mogae will lead a 17-member Commonwealth Observer Group to monitor Kenya's general elections slated for March 4.

A statement from the Commonwealth Secretariat received in Nairobi on Wednesday said the team of observers who arrive on February 25 is constituted by the Commonwealth Secretary-General Kamalesh Sharma at the invitation of Kenya's Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

Speaking ahead of the group's arrival in Kenya, the Commonwealth Secretary-General said the 54 member association has a long history of engagement with Kenya and is happy to observe these elections.

"I am grateful to Mogae and the members of this Commonwealth Observer Group for agreeing to undertake this important exercise on behalf of the Commonwealth," Sharma said in the statement.

Mogae has previously led Commonwealth observers to the 2011 elections in Nigeria. The Commonwealth Observer Group's mandate is to observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process with a view to assessing compliance with the standards for democratic elections to which Kenya has committed itself.

Impartial group

Where appropriate, the Group may also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework.

"We very much hope that these elections will build upon the success of the 2010 Constitutional Referendum, and help to further strengthen the democratic process in the country. Our expectation is that all sides will engage peacefully and constructively throughout the process," Sharma said.

He said the Commonwealth Observer Groups act impartially and independently and conduct themselves according to the standards expressed in the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

The Commonwealth Observer Group to the 2013 Kenya elections will submit its report to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will in turn send it to the Kenyan government, the IEBC, political parties, and eventually to all Commonwealth governments.

Xinhua

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