AU observers give repeat presidential poll thumbs up

Irene Githinji and Judy Akuma @PeopleDailyKe

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) has endorsed the just-concluded fresh presidential election in its preliminary report. The AU Mission, led by former South African President Thabo Mbeki said most electoral procedures were complied with during voting and tallying.

Mbeki urged aggrieved parties in the repeat poll to seek legal redress in challenging any aspects of the electoral processes they may not agree with. Today, the more widely constituted observer team, Election Observers group (ELOG) will issue its preliminary findings which are expected to tally with the AU one, given that their field teams work largely in tandem.

Meanwhile, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) yesterday gazetted Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto as the President-elect and Deputy President-elect respectively, as the countdown to their swearing began in earnest, barring any petition action in the Supreme Court.

At the same time, IEBC) has granted presidential candidates, agents and observers access to the results transmission server for the just-ended election. In another development, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni yesterday congratulated Uhuru on his re-election.

Museveni said Uhuru’s win was a true indication that the will of the people of Kenya was upheld and that the process was free and fair. “Your re-election is a clear testimony of the trust you have earned from the people of Kenya and appreciation of efforts you have made towards development of your country and region for the last five years,” reads part of the statement.

For the AU observer mission, Mbeki said they would continue to observe all electoral developments and provide a final detailed report at a later date. “Following the announcement of the results by the IEBC, the Mission calls upon all parties that feel aggrieved by this election to follow legal processes in challenging any aspect of the electoral process,” the mission said ina statement.

AUEOM said the stipulated polling procedures for opening, voting, closing and counting were largely complied with. Led by Mbeki and Long Time Observers Coordinator Phillip Attuquayefio, AUEOM observed instances of failure of the KIEMS kits in identifying voters but noted the validation of identity forms were completed as required or the alpha numeric search was resorted to.

Similarly, the observers noted that all party agents present at the count consented and signed the results before the Form 34A was transmitted electronically to the Constituency tallying centre.

“On October 27, AU observers visited 71 constituency tallying centres and noted that the staff complied with the stipulated procedures to a large extent. Similar to our observation at polling stations, the absence of opposition party agents at constituency tallying centres was noted,” AUEOM stated.

AUEOM deployed its observers to 20 counties where observers visited 195 polling stations spread across 71 constituencies. AUEOM said it was concerned with acts of violence in some parts of the country which prevented the conduct of election and condemned destruction of property, injuries and loss of lives that were reported. IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati declared the repeat presidential election as above board.

Chebukati, who gave a moving speech on Monday at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre, outlining the personal struggles he had undergone in conducting the process, said he was pleased that the exercise has been billed credible, free and fair.

Nasa candidate Raila Odinga, who had withdrawn by way of a letter, however, declined to sign the requisite Form 24A to formally withdraw, leaving IEBC with no option but to put his name on the ballot, along the other seven.

Chebukati termed the exercise the most difficult and cited legally unchartered waters in that Kenya had become the first country in Africa and in the Commonwealth, and only the fourth in the world, to have its presidential election annulled and a repeat poll done successfully.

“Their work was marvelous, they are the real ‘shujaas’ (heroes), despite the fact they risked a five-year jail term owing to the new election laws,” Chebukati said in reference to Returning Officers.

In a special Gazette dated October 30, 2017 notice, Chebukati declared that Uhuru and Ruto had been duly elected as President and Deputy President of the Republic of Kenya having complied with the Provisions of Article 139 (4) of the Constitution during the fresh Presidential election held on Thursday October 26, 2017.

Even as the IEBC gazettes Uhuru and Ruto’s election, it is not clear if they will be sworn in or if they will face another court battle should the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) file a petition challenging their victory.

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