THE Minister for East African Cooperation, Mr Samuel Sitta, has expressed optimism that Kenya's national general elections on Monday will be free and fair.
"Kenyans are our counterparts in the East African Community (EAC) and our neighbours. We are optimistic that the elections will be smooth, free and fair," he said.Mr Sitta noted further that Kenyan peace was vital in ensuring that the EAC moves forward smoothly. He added that the situation was 'so far, good.' "Tanzania will observe the elections closely through EAC and the Southern African Development Community (SADC)," he said.
The team of EAC observers is being led by the Former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) who is also the Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM) Secretary General, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana.Reports from Kenya have it that the US-based Carter Centre election monitoring group says it is optimistic that Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will conduct peaceful elections.
John Stremlau, the vice-president for peace programmes at the US-based Carter Centre, says the IEBC has been responsive to pressure to deliver peaceful and credible elections. He noted that there were concerns of rising tensions expressed by some Kenyans ahead of the election."The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has administered the process so far in a competent manner. There have been some shortcomings, but at the moment we are hopeful because we all like to see a peaceful election in Kenya," he said.
The IEBC invited the Carter Center's election observers to monitor the March 4 vote. Some Kenyans, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have expressed concerns about possible vote rigging, a concern the IEBC says is unfounded.Some Kenyans attribute the 2007-2008 post-election violence to disputes over vote totals. The violence left an estimated 1,133 people dead and forced hundreds of thousands from their homes.
Some analysts say next week's vote will be hotly contested because President Mwai Kibaki is set to retire.