Observers ready to monitor polls and ensure peaceful transition

Ellen Dingani Mission Team Leader during round table discussions on Kenya's 2022 General Election preparedness. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

The African Union (AU), the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa, Intergovernmental Authority for Development and the East Africa Community observers are in the country to monitor elections.

The group will assess the political environment and election preparedness in order to advise on mitigation measures.

Speaking in Nairobi, AU mission team leader Elen Dingani said the observers have been sent to Nairobi, Kisumu, Rift Valley and Central regions.

“The objective of the expert mission is to acquire a detailed understanding of the peace and security situation and to inform the leadership of the four organisations to prompt early preventative response where needed,” said Dingani.

Dingani noted that the team is to ensure a smooth transition after the elections.

“The joint mission or individual bodies have eminent persons who can be engaged in terms of making sure there is smooth transition and mediation and diplomacy between the front runners in the political parties and try to manage the winners and losers,” she added.

Lucas Kimanzi, the Human Rights Officer, Kenya National Commission on Human Rights, said the end product of electoral processes are elective leaders from grassroots to national who determine conflict and stability of an area. “Out of the 47 counties, 21 of them are premium and hotly contested because the sitting governors have exhausted their two terms. Half of these candidates are trying to outdo each other to win the seats by deploying all manner of schemes to influence voters,” said Kimanzi.

He noted that most conflicts in the world are linked to the disputes that arise from the political class and sexual and gender-based violence has been used as a tool for conflict.

“Incitement to violence by aspirants and supporters against opponents mainly in gubernatorial and presidential race, leaders zoning areas for a political party, unresolved issues in the TJRC report and social and economic situations trigger violence,” he said.

Registrar of Political Parties Anne Nderitu noted that her organisation has dispatched 445 officers to monitor political parties’ actions on the ground, saying the political parties have been inducted to prepare for win or loss.

“We have our officers in the field and at our headquarters to monitor politicians’ behaviours on the ground. Once we identify them, we have a mechanism to deal with them. Those found inciting hate, or criminal cases we refer them to NCIC and security apparatus respectively,” she said.

Nderitu said she is confident that the number of cases for appeal after election will go down if the last trend is kept.

‘‘In 2013, there were 700 complain cases which went down in 2017 to 200. This is a clear indication that we can do better if we behave,’’ she said.

Dingani noted that the experts are mainly conducting direct observation of election –related events, particularly the campaigns to forge areas of synergy with key stakeholders to understand the broader context of elections and political dynamics.

“We deployed a high level pre-election joint mission since May 2022 to assess the state of affairs as far as preparedness toward peaceful, free, fair and credible elections in the country. The mission also recommended early and continuous engagement of the three regional organisations in the electoral process in Kenya,” said Dingani.