Elections 2017

Mission says IEBC reforming towards election date

NAIROBI, KENYA, MONDAY: The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) has said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is responding well to its nine-point reform agenda for a successful repeat presidential poll.

In its statement, however, the mission said dialogue and cooperation were urgently needed for compromises so that there could be a peaceful electoral process marked by integrity and transparency.

The mission was particularly worried by developments such as the controversial electoral amendment bill passed by the Jubilee controlled National Assembly and withdrawal of NASA candidate Raila Odinga from the repeat poll on October 26.

The poll was occasioned by the Supreme Court of Kenya’s annulment of the August 8, 2017 presidential poll and its ordering of a fresh one within 60 days. The court’s verdict was in favour of a petition by Raila, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka and the National Super Alliance.

“The EU EOM has observed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is undertaking positive measures at this stage in regards to nearly all of the nine recommendations that relate to the election administration,” said the mission.

“If implemented as planned, these provide a foundation for an improved technical process, with stronger transparency and integrity measures.”

The EU EOM noted that plans for much stronger coverage by the media of tabulation in tallying centres should enable the public to see the results tabulation process and totals.

On September 14 the EU Election Observation Mission published an Interim Statement with findings since the 8 August elections and 18 recommendations for the re-run of the presidential election.

The 18 recommendations, it said, were consistent with the 20 September detailed judgment of the Supreme Court, which affirmed the need for the results process to meet the constitutional requirement of being “simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent.”

In its stocktaking of the reforms, EU EOM noted that IEBC had made positive progress in adopting policies and plans for timely reform actions for the re-run, regular and meaningful stakeholder consultation and frequent comprehensive public communication.

Other reforms it recommended for IEBC include improving results transmission software and network selection provision, so that 34A polling station results forms are reliably sent through the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS).

“Improvements have reportedly been made in the selection of mobile network operators, so a greater number of polling results should in principle be sent immediately from polling stations.”

In calling for dialogue between Nasa and Jubilee chiefs, EU EOM noted that its recommendations made to political contenders had not seen improvements.

It said a highly controversial electoral amendment bill, passed by Jubilee MPs in Parliament and awaiting presidential assent, had furthered divisions.

“The amendments are not required under the Supreme Court’s 1 September ruling, and their timing is not consistent with good practice for electoral law reform.”

On NASA, it said, the coalition had declared that there would be “no election” as scheduled, stating that its candidates would not participate in the event that the amendments were adopted by the executive and there were not profound changes at the IEBC.

“Worryingly, there is also concern that “no election” means NASA supporters could obstruct polling and tallying. Such actions from both sides of the political divide are seriously damaging democratic functioning. Dialogue and cooperation are urgently needed for compromises so there can be a peaceful electoral process with integrity and transparency and Kenyans can chose their President.”