Former Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Wafula Chebukati avers that excluding election observers from polls may be contributing to the recent spate of election-related military coups in Africa.
In a post on X, formerly Twitter on Thursday, August 31, Chebukati said that election observers play a vital role in ensuring the transparency and accountability of an election outcome.
“The avalanche of election-related military coups in Africa disrupts democratic gains. In most of these elections, observers were excluded from the electoral process,” he wrote.
His sentiments come on the back of a military takeover in Gabon on Wednesday, August 30, in which the Gabon army appeared on national TV to say that they had taken over power in the West African nation, and were challenging the re-election of President Ali Bongo.
Chebukati was appointed as the IEBC chairperson in January 2017 by former President Uhuru Kenyatta for a six-year term. He succeeded Ahmed Issack Hassan and retired on January 17, 2023.
His remarks echoed those of the former IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe, who opined that coups will continue until Africa addresses the issues of manipulated elections, constitutional coups, and leadership deficits.
“The wave of coups shall continue until as a continent we have the courage to address the scourge of manipulated elections, constitutional coups, and leadership/governance deficits,” she said.
Akombe resigned from her position as an IEBC commissioner in October 2017, amid a political crisis following the Supreme Court nullification of the 2017 presidential election.
Chebukati and Akombe’s statements come in the wake of a military coup in Gabon, which was declared hours after Ali Bongo Ondimba was announced as the winner of the presidential election.
On Wednesday, the Gabonese Election Centre (CGE) said that Bongo secured 64.27 per cent of the vote, while his main challenger Michel Stephane Bonda got 30.77 per cent.
Bonda’s faction claimed that the election was fraudulent.
Army officers later appeared on TV to announce that Gen.Brice Oligui Nguema, the head of the presidential guard, would take charge.
Gabon’s coup comes nearly a month after a similar incident in Niger, where the presidential guard detained President Mohamed Bazoum on July 26 and their commander General Abdourahamane Tchiani declared himself as the leader of a new military junta.
The coups have attracted condemnation from France, the US, the African Union, and across the globe.
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President William Ruto has also called for calm in Gabon and offered Kenya’s help in resolving the conflict.
Other African countries that have experienced military coups in recent times include Burkina Faso, Sudan, Guinea, and Mali.