Observers worry about the multiplicity of electoral laws in Kenya

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By LUKE ANAMI

Election Observation Missions in Kenya commended the Electoral Commission for professionally conducting a smooth voting exercise despite reported instances of failure of electronic identification kits at some polling stations.

The East African Community (EAC), Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), Commonwealth, African Union (AU) and Common Market for Eastern Africa Observer Missions and australe (Comesa) also designate the police for the reinforcement of security at the polling centers.

However, the team criticized the use of state resources during political campaigns, the failure of Kiems kits in some polling stations, low voter turnout and the lack of participation of young people in elective positions and in the process. of voting.

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The EAC point of view

“The mission takes note of the remarkable improvements made by the IEBC in the transparency, preparation and management of the 2022 general elections in Kenya,” said the head of the EAC mission, former Tanzanian President Jakaya Kikwete.

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He recommended “better communication between the IEBC and the various stakeholders”.

Mr. Kikwete also praised the National Police Service, which he said did not interfere with the voting process.

“In the polling stations observed, security personnel were present and very professional in carrying out their duties and responsibilities. They did not interfere with electoral processes, nor intimidate voters,” he said.

While noting the challenges of the Kiems kit snags, he said the technology was improving efficiency and increasing transparency, unlike previous elections.

He recommended that the problems with the kits be identified and necessary and correct measures taken for better performance in future elections.

AU and Comesa

The African Union and Comesa also praised the performance of the IEBC but disputed the use of state resources during the campaign period.

“While the campaigns were largely peaceful and issue-driven, hate speech, misuse of state resources, failure to adhere to campaign timetables, violence and the use of criminal gangs have observed,” said Dr Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone.

“The misuse of state resources has created an uneven playing field, especially for smaller campaigners.”

The AU-Comesa mission noted that despite the relatively high youth population (18-35 years old), youth registration for the 2022 elections was low.

“Only 39.84% (8.8 million) of the total registered voters were young people, down 5.17% from 2017 figures,” Koroma noted.

The mission also observed the late release of Treasury funds to the IEBC, which affected key electoral processes, including voter registration, voter register verification and voter education.

The elections were marked by a strong participation of political parties and independent candidates.

Of the 90 registered parties, 81 contested the elections. Of the 16,105 candidates, 28.1% were independents.

“Many independent candidates would have been dissatisfied with candidate selection processes within political parties,” Koroma said.

The Commonwealth view

Commonwealth Observer Group Chairman Bruce Golding hailed the largely peaceful environment that prevailed during the pre-election period and commended the efforts made by the political parties, their leaders, presidential candidates and the people of Kenya to foster a peaceful environment in the run-up to the elections.

“We found that voters were largely able to vote freely. The elections were competitive, with freedom of association and participation rights provided for and respected,” Mr. Golding said.

“Overall, it was understood that any disputes arising would be taken to court. We were reassured to learn that the judiciary inspires public confidence.

However, he pointed out that the lack of a comprehensive review of the electoral law and the Kiems system has led to some uncertainty in the electoral process.

“The multiplicity of unconsolidated amendments to electoral laws has also complicated the administration of elections in Kenya and resulted in its ambiguity. These complications hampered the IEBC’s election preparations and resulted in decisions that required last-minute changes to procedures,” Mr. Golding said.

“It should be noted, for example, that the question of whether the digital or printed register would be the main mechanism for verifying the identity of voters was only decided on the eve of the elections, following a decision of the Court of Appeal. Kenya may wish to consider establishing a specialized court to deal with election-related issues.

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