MEPs urge support for Kenya’s electoral process

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The EU parliament during a past session. Members of the parliament on January 16, 2017 discussed the situation in Kenya. Photo credit: Daily nation.

Members of the European Parliament have called for more support to Kenya so as to strengthen its electoral processes and institutions.

The MPs, who discussed the political situation in Kenya on Tuesday evening, also noted that sharp divisions following last year’s elections still persist and the country remains divided.

While contributing to the debate Cecilia Malmstrom noted that the October 26 repeat presidential election was better managed than the August 8 General Election.

POLITICAL CONFLICT

“It had better and transparent procedures. What is worrying is the political conflict. The electoral laws were also changed very late. Changes should be done far in advance,” she said.

Charles Tannock questioned the failure by Supreme Court to hear a case seeking to stop the repeat poll, just a day to the election.

“The court did not raise the quorum.  Was pressure applied on Judges not to turn up? I ask,” he said.

Marietje Schaake, who was the chief observer for the European Union Election Observation Mission in Kenya, said rights were not always applied by security officers during the electioneering period.

She told parliament that during the mission, they “never held Kenya to lower standards.”

The mission published a report on its observations during the two rounds of presidential elections.

DISPUTE

Ms Schaake last week clashed with the Kenyan government after she released the observation mission’s report in Brussels after a dispute with the authorities in Nairobi.

While she claimed that the government had said it was not ready to receive the mission, the government said releasing the report without its input was not procedural, condescending and disdainful.

Ms Schaake said that with the deadline agreed in June last year fast approaching, she had no option but to release the report from a “remote” location.

Kenya’s Ambassador to Belgium, Johnson Weru, said it was actually Ms Schaake who had gone against the memorandum of agreement.

The final report, uploaded on the EU website after Ms Schaake’s address, has 29 recommendations which the observers say Kenya has to implement if it has to improve its election procedures.

They include strengthening independent institutions, promoting democracy within political parties, and developing the Kenya Broadcasting Corporation into a “genuine public service broadcaster with full editorial and financial independence”.

STATE RESOURCES

The observers question a long-held requirement that people aspiring to be leaders need not be bankrupt. They also wonder why there are educational requirements for vying.

The EU also accuses Jubilee of using its incumbency to abuse state resources.

“However,” the report adds, “the advantages of incumbency at county level were evidently to the benefit of both political camps. During the 141 rallies watched by observers, 27 instances of misuse of State resources in 16 counties were witnessed.

“These included 18 instances involving Jubilee and four involving Nasa. This primarily concerned the use of official county and national government vehicles to and from campaign events, including one military helicopter in Makueni County.”