25 February 2013

East Africa: Regional Bodies Begin Kenya Observer Mission

Nairobi — Three regional inter-governmental organisations, yesterday, began jointly training their election observers ahead of the 2013 general elections due March 4.

The East African Community (EAC), Common Market for East and Southern Africa (Comesa) and Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) have pooled resources to a organise a coordinated and joint deployment of election observers.

Felix Odhiambo Owour, the Kenya Country Director of Electoral Institute for Sustainable Democracy in Africa (EISA), cautioned participants against being complacent given the complexities and uniqueness of the election.

"Some of the presidential candidates are accused persons at The Hague and the ICC process has itself taken a political dimension, which makes this election very unique," Owour told The New Times in Nairobi yesterday.

He said the new provision for a presidential run-off and elective offices having been doubled to six makes the polls different.

"The observers have a sacred responsibility to ensure that they do their work with a lot of professionalism and keenness to the very least mitigate what happened in 2007 and 2008," he added.

No individualism

Abdulrahman Kinana, the former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly and Head of the EAC Election observer mission, asked the observers to refrain from making individual statements, but rather leave it to the mission leader to make collective statements.

"This fundamental duty bestowed on us as observers is noble as it will contribute to peaceful political change that has positive consequences not only for Kenyans but also for the East African Community region," he said.

Ambassador Simbi Veke, the Comesa Head of Mission, said, "As you go out in the three days I urge you to conduct yourselves in a professional manner and show our collaboration with the Kenyans in holding peaceful elections."

EAC, Comesa and IGAD have brought together more than 70 observers, who will cover at least half of the counties in Kenya.

In 2007, post-election violence erupted following an impasse as Mwai Kibai was declared winner. More than 1,000 people died in the ethnic violence.

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