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EAC observer mission in Kenya polls takes off

17th February 2013
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The East African Community is deploying a 40-member Election Observer Mission in the Kenya General Election from February 18 to March 8.

This follows an invitation to deploy an Election Observer Mission by the Kenya government.

Abdulrahman Kinana, a renowned East African and former Speaker of the East African Legislative Assembly (1st Parliament) from the United Republic of Tanzania will lead the mission. Kinana is currently Secretary General of Tanzania’s ruling party, Chama Cha Mapinduzi (CCM).

The membership of the mission has been drawn from all the EAC Partner States except from the Republic of Kenya and are from different but complementary disciplines.

It includes members of the East African Legislative Assembly, National Electoral Commissions, National Human Rights Commissions, and Youth Representatives from EAC Youth Ambassadors Forum.

The nominations were based on the principle of gender balance and youth involvement.

Commenting ahead of the deployment, the Secretary General of the East African Community, Dr. Richard Sezibera said: “The deployment of an Election Observer Mission to the Kenyan Elections is part of EAC’s goal to promote democratic governance in line with the fundamental principles of the Community.”

He stated that the overall objective of the EAC Election Observer Mission is to contribute to the promotion of the conduct of free, fair and credible elections through an environment that is peaceful and stable.

In the long term, the mission will contribute to strengthening political accountability amongst Partner States, provide an avenue for Partner States to share experiences on election management and facilitate peer learning, he elaborated.

A media launch of the EAC Election Observer Mission in the Kenya general elections is slated for tomorrow in Nairobi.

Meanwhile reports from Kenya suggest that the fear of sanctions and other ‘consequences’ could prove decisive in how the Jubilee presidential candidate and his running mate fare on March 4.

As the two present a stiff challenge to frontrunner Raila Odinga from the CORD Alliance, this question could determine Kenya’s next president.

An opinion poll released on Friday reveals Raila has a lead of just three per cent over Uhuru Kenyatta, who has just learned the courts will not block his bid.

Uhuru and William Ruto face trial for crimes against humanity at The Hague alongside two others in less than two months’ time. As a result, some foreign envoys have warned they would give them the cold shoulder if they were to win. Their rivals have interpreted this to mean economic or other sanctions, sparking heated debate on the presidential campaign trail.

“The word sanctions has never been used by us,” the Head of the European Union Delegation to Kenya Lodewijk Briet said recently after a meeting with Foreign Minister Sam Ongeri. “Why would there be sanctions?”

However, reminders by a senior American State Department official that “choices have consequences” make it clear there would be a price to an Uhuru presidency, even if sanctions were not considered. Confusion over what ‘punishment’ is likely and whether it would target the nation or the two ICC accused is now a huge perception headache for Uhuru and Ruto. This is in addition to concerns over whether they would govern effectively in a first term during which they face trials at the International Criminal Court.

Glimpse to voters

Pre-trial meetings with International Criminal Court officials on Thursday gave voters a glimpse of how the ICC could be a distraction for the Jubilee team on the campaign trail and in office. The campaign has also been knocked off message over the ‘consequences’ debate. Uhuru, however, says they can cope with this problem and Jubilee will rise or fall on other merits.

“This (threat of diplomatic isolation) is not putting off the voters at all,” he told an international newspaper recently. “They are looking at our agenda, at the issues. That is how they will make their decision.”

A Consumer Insight poll conducted for a local media house earlier this week suggests close to two in three voters agree. However, the proportion of those who think Uhuru should not be on the ballot – 40 per cent – is large enough to dent his chances of getting to State House in the first or second rounds.

The ICC question has sparked a war or words that could lock up the race. It is based on the implied threat that a Jubilee victory would automatically lead to sanctions targeted at the whole country, not just at the two individuals.

Additional report by Kenya’s Standard Newspaper  

SOURCE: GUARDIAN ON SUNDAY