Kenya’s government has failed to put adequate measures in place to deal with a potential outbreak of violence around elections in August, according to a leading democracy assistance group.
The chances of unrest at the time of the Aug. 8 ballot have been heightened by an “extremely polarized” political environment, said the National Democratic Institute, after an NDI delegation to the country last week met political leaders, electoral and government officials, among others, Bloomberg reports.
“Virtually everyone with whom the delegation met expressed serious concern about the potentials for violence,” the Washington-based advocacy group said in a statement. “Numerous stakeholders asserted to the delegation that the question is not whether there will be violence, but how much and where.”
NDI’s proposals range from having political rivals publicly pledge to uphold the peace to parties barring candidates who breach codes of conduct, the Nation adds:
These recommendations are among five areas identified by the Nation as significant ahead of the General Election, which is in 117 days. The American lobby said the electoral commission must build the trust of the public and the contestants in the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (KIEMS), as well as the manual back-up, to reduce disputes after the election.
“The IEBC should include technical representatives from political parties and civil society in each stage of testing and deployment of those systems, as well as in the training of election officials in their use,” NDI added.
Kenya should do more to guarantee a flawless election, said the delegation, which included former South Africa Independent Electoral Commission chair Brigalia Bam, former Nigeria Independent National Election Commission chair Attahiru Jega and former US Assistant Secretary of State for Africa Constance Newman.
“Already, a number of killings and other violence with political implications have already taken place and difficulties in meeting the electoral calendars are apparent,” said the delegation’s report. “Concerted efforts will be required of all electoral actors for credible and peaceful elections to be realized,” it added.
Following consultations with a broad range of electoral stakeholders, the delegation offered a number of recommendations, including:
- Election-Day Technologies. In order to establish trust among the electoral contestants and public confidence in the KIEMS integrated system, as well as paper back-up systems, the IEBC should include political party and civil society technical representatives in each stage of testing and deployment of those systems, as well as, in the training of election officials in their use. The IEBC should develop a clear methodology with appropriate safeguards on the collation verification and transmission of results, both through the use of technology and manual systems.
- Election Results Verification. Political parties, citizen election observers and media that independently collect election results from polling stations and tallying centers should act responsibly with their information and not usurp the role of the IEBC in announcing official election results, while the IEBC should guarantee access to counting and results processes. That includes providing security for party agents, media and election observers.
- Political Party-IEBC Dialogue. Political parties and the IEBC should develop an effective forum for inclusive and constructive dialogue to address challenges and requirements for achieving credible, peaceful elections on August 8.
- Voter Education. The IEBC, civil society and political parties should conduct broad campaigns to inspire electoral participation, especially among youth.
- Inclusion. All key stakeholders – political parties, IEBC, civil society, media and the security sector - must put in place urgent measures to remove obstacles that hinder the full participation of women, young people, the disabled and other marginalized groups in all aspects of the electoral process.