Times, Financial Times say international observers were too quick to endorse election

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga (sec.r) in solidarity with co- principles from ( l-r ) Moses Wetang'ula, Musalia Mudavadi, former Meru governor Peter Munya and Kalonzo Musyoka when they welcomed Munya and his PNU party members. This was at Capitol Hill, Nairobi on 04/09/2017. Photo by: Jenipher Wachie.

The New York Times has found itself with egg on its face over its dismissal of the National Super Alliance (NASA) candidate Raila Odinga’s poll irregularity claims.

The publication owned up and retracted the criticism even as the Financial Times joined in hitting out at the international observers who approved the polls as free and credible, only for the Supreme Court to invalidate the presidential election over irregularities.

In an editorial piece, the New York Times said the rush to call the polls overlooked critical election aspect even after the macabre killing of IEBC ICT manager Christopher Msando.

“The ruling was also a rebuke to international monitors and diplomats — and to this page — who were too quick to dismiss charges of irregularities, largely out of relief that the Aug. 8 voting had been mainly peaceful and in the hope that disappointment with the results would not lead to the sort of violence that erupted after the disputed 2007 election, in which hundreds of people were killed,” said the publication in its editorial piece of September 3.

The Financial Times, in an article, said the ruling has put on notice “the many regimes across the continent who exploit incumbency to perpetuate their rule through patronage, oppression, and manipulation of the vote”.

“So too have those international election observers whose formulaic rubber stamping of results has become increasingly insidious — notably in undermining their own credibility, but also in spreading cynicism among the electorate. Since 2007 when Kenya went to the brink of civil war in the wake of polls marred by fraud, there has been a tendency among such observers to brush aside all manner of irregularities in the interests of preserving peace,” said the Financial Times.

The publication hit out at former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who represented Carter Centre, for asking Raila to concede defeat.