The European Union election observation mission has called for urge electoral reforms to secure Kenya’s future elections.
“Kenyans went from high hopes for these elections to many disappointments and confrontations. Kenya remains deeply divided,” said Chief Observer, Ms Marietje Schaake in a statement.
The mission has made 29 recommendations for reforms in Kenya to improve future elections.
“Our final report and recommendations are intended to contribute to a better democratic process and a restoration of trust. But with every recommendation, leadership from those in power, support from the population, and cooperation between different fractions are needed in order to initiate reform,” she said during the release of the final report on the 2017 General Election in Brussels, Germany on Wednesday.
The EOM’s 29 recommendations for reform include improving the resilience of independent institutions, inclusive legal reform, improved ICT arrangements and IEBC oversight, a legal requirement for a comprehensive results framework, and a review of the electoral system to promote the participation of women and inclusivity.
The report was released in Brussels after the Kenyan government stated it was not prepared to receive the Chief Observer in Nairobi at this time.
The Mission accused both political parties of “ attacking independent institutions and by a lack of dialogue between the two sides, with escalating disputes and violence” which they termed as “Illegal and anti-democratic.”
“Jubilee’s unilateral amendments to electoral legislation during the fresh election, harsh rhetoric against the judiciary and acts of intimidation against civil society were highly antagonistic and not consistent with international commitments and good practice for democratic functioning.”
“Supporters of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) assaulted and intimidated polling staff, attacked IEBC offices, and disrupted electoral preparations.”
In the report, the Mission noted that in last year’s repeat presidential election, there was “an improved performance by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), with a more transparent results process in October, but also a persistent lack of trust in the institution by the opposition and other stakeholders.”
However, the Government in a statement said they regret the premature release of the report.
“The Government of the Republic of Kenya regrets the unprocedural and premature manner in which the Final Report of the EU Election Observation Mission has been released…Her action has breached the terms of Kenya’s Memorandum of Understanding on election monitoring with the European Union, which called for a structured and official process,” said Kenyan government, through its ambassador to Belgium, Johnson Weru.
However, Schaake noted, “As previously agreed with the Kenyan authorities, the EU EOM has published its final report within three months of the 26th October election.”
Further, the government emphasised that it regrets Schaake’s “Contemptuous political grandstanding, as it has broken with the aims and procedures of the EU EOM, well captured in its MoU with the Government of Kenya.”
In conclusion, Ms Schaake said “We hope the recommendations in our final report will contribute to more resilient democracy from which all Kenyans benefit. This takes time to build up, which is why it is important that steps are taken promptly to improve the legal framework, institutions and practices.”