1 November 2017

Kenya: Observer Group Urges Poll Audit, Dialogue on Contested Issues

Photo: Jeff Angote/The Nation
Supreme Court Justices (file photo).

Nairobi — The Election Observation Group (ELOG) has called for a comprehensive audit of last week's presidential election to facilitate future reforms in electoral processes.

ELOG Chairperson Regina Opondo noted during a press briefing on Wednesday that the audit was critical to enhancing accountability and confidence of the electorate in polls.

"This process should involve as many stakeholders as possible and lessons learnt must inform the next phase of electoral reforms," Opondo said even as she pointed out the failure by the electoral commission to make available the voters register for timely inspection as one of the issues of concern.

The election observer group which deployed a total of 290 long-term monitors and 2,196 short-term observers also urged the Directorate of Public Prosecutions (DPP) to expedite investigations into police brutality and killings during the election to send a strong message that the State does not condone violence.

In its statement which enumerated a number of poll procedures and how well they were executed by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials in areas the observer mission covered, ELOG noted that failure to prosecute those who contravened the law could encourage further breakage of rules.

"The DPP needs to speedily investigate the numerous incidents of assault and killing of civilians in the run-up and during the just-concluded elections because no officials report has been issued by the authorities," Opondo said.

"Survivors, their families, and communities should be assured that the State does not condone violence committed by the police or any other persons and will take all measures necessary to end impunity and these violations," she added.

ELOG also called for a national dialogue to address issues of contention arising from the October 26 presidential election.

ELOG's co-convener Bishop Alfred Rotich (Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops) said some of the issues arising from the poll can be resolved amicably without raising tension in the country if leaders agree to put national interests at the forefront.

"There's a need to address a broad range of social, political and economic issues affecting the country and all stakeholders need to be involved by the relevant stakeholders within the shortest time possible," the Military Ordinance said.

He said dialogue should also address existing gaps negatively impacting the credibility of elections in order to enhance democracy in the country.

"The nation must work very hard to build confidence in the electoral process as that is the key pillar of Kenyan's democratic practice," noted Bishop Rotich.

"Kenyans must make deliberate and purposeful strides to work towards cohesion by addressing political challenges that hamper Kenya from realising the aspirations promised and premised in our Constitution," Bishop Korir urged.

ELOG further said IEBC's inability to conduct the presidential election in 25 Nyanza region constituencies was an action tantamount to the disenfranchisement of voters.

The group said it was difficult to guarantee a credible election in the environment within which the poll was held.

IEBC postponed and later called off in totality the election in Nyanza due to cases of violence and heightened insecurity occasioned by the region's kingpin, Raila Odinga's withdrawal from the presidential election.

Voters resisted attempts by IEBC officials to conduct an election in the region despite the poll agency retaining Odinga's name on the ballot.

ELOG also pointed out a few discrepancies between statutory forms submitted by its monitors and those posted on IEBC's web portal saying officials who may have willingly tampered with poll results needed to face prosecution.

According to an assessment conducted on 540 Form 34As whose images ELOG observers captured at sampled polling centres, seven out of 536 legible forms did not have an official IEBC stamp.

One of the 536 forms did not have the signature of the responsible presiding officer, ELOG narrated.

The group also noted one instance where Bolargy Primary School in Garissa Township constituency had a statutory form posted on the IEBC portal which varied from what an ELOG monitor recorded by 200 votes.

According to ELOG, the said form had 286 votes entered in favour of President Uhuru Kenyatta as opposed to 86 votes.

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