17 June 2013

Tanzania: Kinana Warns Media Over Breach of Peace

Moshi — THE Media in Tanzania and all its practitioners will not escape the arm of the international legal institutions if they continue to propagate issues that contribute to breach of peace and conflicts in the country.

Mr Abdulrahman Kinana, who headed the East African Observer Mission during the last March Kenyan elections, stated here that of late, Tanzanian media outlets and journalists have been so irresponsible in their reporting such that the country has been plunged into series of social, religious and political conflicts, some of which have already claimed lives.

"Journalists here believe that when it comes to facing charges in international courts such as the ICC in The Hague, it is only the politicians and government leaders who become accused," warned Mr Kinana, reminding that even reporters get charged.

He cited the case of Kenya's Radio journalist, Mr Joshua Arap-Sang, who was summoned before the International Criminal Court (ICC) for his alleged role in the country's 2007 post-election chaos that claimed over 1 000 lives.

Mr Kinana was speaking in Moshi, over the weekend at the climax of the Post-Election Assessment Workshop to the Kenya's 2013 General Elections. The event was attended by nearly 40 members who constituted the East African Community's (EAC) Elections Observer Mission.

The head of the mission said Kenya's media was credited by the OEM for the smooth running of the 2013 electoral process in the country, just as it was discovered to have catalysed the conflicts that marred the 2007 polls.

"Kenya's media and journalists have come of age; they were extremely patriotic and placed their country's interests above politics and ethnicity, we should highly commend them for that, though on the other hand their counterparts in Tanzania do not seem to learn from their neighbours's experience," said Kinana.

The EAC joined forces with the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) in having a coordinated deployment of Election Observation Mission to Kenya.

The observer mission to Kenya, Mr Abdulrahman Kinana said, was based on the need to maximise utilisation of available resources, have a big pool of observers and coordinate submission of information from the observers from the field to monitor Kenya as it went to polls on the 4th of March 2013.

"This initiative facilitates a wide coverage of the Republic of Kenya, enhance the credibility of the assessment and improve the quality of the report," stated Mr Kinana, adding that it was in an effort to take advantage of the multiple memberships in regional organisations.

The EAC Mission was composed of 40 members drawn from all EAC Partner States except from the Republic of Kenya. The Mission was coordinated by Ms Lydia Wanyoto, former Member of the East African legislative Assembly (EALA), hailing from the Republic of Uganda.

Membership of the Mission has been drawn from different but complementary disciplines. It includes members of the EALA, National Electoral Commissions (NEC), 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. The Mission's mandate was to observe and consider all aspects of the electoral process, assess whether the elections are conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which the country has committed itself.

The team made recommendations for future strengthening of the electoral processes and enhancing the capacity of Electoral Management Bodies in Kenya and in the whole of East Africa.

"We look forward to elections that strengthen and advance the democratic culture in East Africa and that contribute to the peace, security and stability that East Africans enjoy," said Kinana.

The EAC's Observer Mission was conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct, adopted at the United Nations in 2005.

The Mission assessed the electoral process based on Kenya's national legal framework and its obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international agreements and more specifically, the Treaty for the Establishment of the EAC.

The Team monitored the campaign activities, media coverage, examined the legislative framework and its implementation, segments of the election administration where responsibility lies with different government bodies and the mechanisms in place for resolution of election disputes, among others.

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