US lobby group raises concerns over the country’s preparedness for the August 8th polls

US lobby group raises concerns over the country’s preparedness for the August 8th polls
  • A leading election observer group has revealed that Kenyans are almost convinced that a repeat of the 2007-08 post-election skirmishes will occur but they don’t know is the magnitude of violence that precipitate a disputed August 8th elections
  • Washington based lobby group says although significant early-warning platforms are operational ahead of the poll, anti-violence efforts do not match those mounted in the run-up to the 2013 elections.
  • The lobby group said, its research revealed that use of public resources to campaign worried a number of Kenyans and noted that campaigns have intensely started at national and county levels.
  • In a case of disputes, they advised the Registrar of Political Parties should ensure political parties understand when to turn for a resolution to the IEBC, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal and the courts.

Kenyans are almost convinced that a repeat of the 2007-08 post-election skirmishes will occur but they don’t know is the magnitude of violence that precipitate a disputed August 8th elections, a leading election observer group has revealed.

In a report published by the United States based lobby the National Democratic Institute (NDI) says although significant early-warning platforms are operational ahead of the poll, anti-violence efforts do not match those mounted in the run-up to the 2013 elections.

“Numerous stakeholders emphasised to the delegation that the question is not whether there will be violence but how much and where ” National Democratic Institute (NDI) said it report released yesterday.

The international observer delegation is visiting the country and interviewing residents and election stakeholders countrywide on the country preparedness for the forthcoming elections.

Last week NDI delegation meet with opposition chiefs Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula as part of the stakeholder involvement.

The delegation called on parties and candidates to cooperate with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and campaign peacefully, following laws, regulations and codes of conduct.

“Electoral integrity and peaceful elections are inextricably interrelated and extraordinary efforts are needed in both areas contestants themselves need to provide leadership in rejecting the use of violence by their supporters,” NDC reckoned.

“State agencies, civil society and religious leaders need to mobilise to prevent killings and other violence on large or small scale,” Washington-based lobby group explained.

The delegation explained that proper use of public resources and prevention of misuse must be ensured by the police, the Registrar of Political Parties and the electoral body.

READ MORE: Elections Law Amendments necessary, IEBC maintains

It suggested that anyone found misusing public resources should be arrested.

The civil rights group said all public servants and state officers must be neutral; they should stop using their positions to campaign for candidates and parties.

“A number of people raised concerns about the misuse of state resources for electoral advantage. In Kenya, as in all countries, there is typically a political advantage to holding elected office for a political party or candidate standing in elections,” the group says in its report.

It continued, “However, the government and its resources belong to the citizens and should not be expropriated for private gain or the advantage of a particular political party, which is clear in Kenya’s legal framework,”

The lobby group said, its research revealed that use of public resources to campaign worried a number of Kenyans and noted that campaigns have intensely started at national and county levels.

“Electoral-related violence discourages young women, men and other new entrants from engaging in politics. Many noted increased interest in county-level elected positions of governor and assembly member is likely to increase potential for violence at that level,” the report read in part.

READ MORE: Elections do not amount to much, Kenyans say in new poll

However, the influential election observer also expressed support on the use of social media and broader election-related platforms to develop a free and informed political choice.

“Protecting and even expanding space for civil society, including NGOs and the media, is essential for the electorate to receive information upon which to develop a free and informed political choice. [It is also necessary] to dispel rumours and counter incitement subverting peaceful elections,” the report advised.

On upcoming party primaries starting next week Friday, the report says security agencies, in consultation with parties, should provide safety for all participating citizens.

In a case of disputes, they advised the Registrar of Political Parties should ensure political parties understand when to turn for a resolution to the IEBC, the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal and the courts.

“Given the extraordinary number of disputes anticipated, additional funding and human resources are required, especially for the PPDT, “the report suggests.

On auditing the voter register, commenced by KPMG, NDI urges the electoral agency push for swift completion and release of results to the public.

READ MOREVoters to be polled ahead of August elections following launch of ‘Kenya Decides’ app

“It would be best if the provisional registry is made timely available to political parties and citizen election monitors in a machine-readable, easily analyzable format,” it says.

According to NDI, this would make it easy to offer timely suggestions to improve the registry.

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