23 February 2013

East Africa: EAC deploys 40-strong Observer Mission for Kenya polls

EANA. A 40-member team composed of members from all East African Community states except Kenya has been deployed to observe the latter's general elections scheduled for March 4.

The East African Community Election Observer Mission will be headed by former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly Abdulrahman Kinana of Tanzania. The Mission will be coordinated by Lydiah Wanyoto, a former EALA Member of Parliament from Uganda.

Addressing the media during the Mission's launch in Nairobi on Monday, EAC Secretary General Dr Richard Sezibera said that the team was drawn from different but complementary disciplines. "It 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 are based on the principles of gender balance and youth participation."

The observers, the Secretary General said, would monitor campaign activities, media coverage, the legislative framework and its implementation, the work of the election administration and relevant government bodies, and the resolution of election disputes. "The mission will meet and consult with representatives from relevant authorities and political parties, as well as with candidates, and with representatives from civil society, the media and the international community."

The EAC, Dr Sezibera said, would also join forces with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern African (Comesa) and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in a coordinated deployment of election observers. "This facilitates a wide coverage with a total of 78 observers who will be deployed in all regions of Kenya. The initiative enhances the credibility of the assessment and improves the quality of the detailed report by the Mission". This arrangement, he said, was also used during the 2010 general elections in Uganda.

Mr Kinana said that because the electoral process was a purely Kenyan affair, his observer team would merely observe and issue a report after the elections. "The EAC Mission, apart from observing elections, will also provide a supportive role that enhances the credibility of the elections, complement the findings of domestic observer groups and increase public confidence in the entire electoral process.

The findings of the Observer Mission will be considered by the Council of the EAC and submitted to the government of Kenya, the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and other political players for implementation of the recommendations and to address the challenges that would have been identified.

The media briefing was also attended by the EAC Deputy Secretary General in charge of Political Federation, Dr Julius Rotich.

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