by Chris Mgidu
NAIROBI, Sept. 14 (Xinhua) — The European Union election observers on Thursday called for reforms and respect for rule of law to help rebuild trust ahead of Kenya’s presidential election re-run on Oct. 17.
The EU Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) chief observer Marietje Schaake said the electroral body’s reform actions are essential for demonstrating compliance with the constitutional requirements for the electoral process to be “simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent.”
“The re-run offers a key opportunity for Kenya to create a more robust democracy and rule of law. But this process is not automatic, requires hard work, and the rebuilding of trust,” she said in a statement issued in Nairobi.
The EU observers also issued 18 recommendations aimed at improving the electoral process in Kenya as the Independence Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) gears up for the fresh polls next month.
Suggested reforms include the IEBC developing and communicating more detailed procedures for the counting, tallying, transmission and transparency of results.
Additionally, tests of procedures and technology as well as improvements to the results transmission software and network coverage are called for.
The EU observers who have been observing the electoral process in Kenya since June suggested that party agents and the media should comprehensively scrutinize constituency tallying centers.
“We also believe that investigative bodies should be thorough and prompt in investigating electoral offences so people at all levels are held to account,” Schaake said.
Four out of six judge bench at the Supreme Court on Sept. 1 declared the election of the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta invalid, citing massive irregularities in counting and transmission of votes.
Kenyatta’s opposition rival, Raila Odinga from National Super Alliance (NASA) party contested the election results and filed a petition at the apex court to have them overturned.
The nullification of Kenya’s victory in the Aug. 8 presidential elections came after foreign observer missions had unanimously endorsed the voting exercise, declaring it peaceful, free and fair.
They later expressed reservations on electronic transmission of votes and urged the electoral body to make it more transparent.
The IEBC, which has been roundly criticized by some Kenyans for bungling the presidential elections, has announced it will conduct a re-run on Oct. 17 but the opposition has vowed not to take part in the exercise until certain reforms are implemented.
The EU observers said the reforms are intended to constructively contribute to the electoral process and to support the fulfillment of the political rights of Kenyans.
Schaake said the recommended reforms should help the IEBC and others rebuild the confidence of Kenyans in their elections.
“It is essential that people come together and work together to serve all Kenyans, and the Constitution. Our EU election observation mission continues its impartial and independent observation work, also during the re-run,” Schaake said.
She said the EU EOM will be deploying long and short-term observers across the country before, during and after election day and will release a full final report with long-term recommendations some two months after completion of the entire electoral process, including the re-run.