Carter Center Commends Efforts of Kenya’s IEBC and Urges Stakeholders to Remain Vigilant Against Electoral Violence
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
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NAIROBI — In a pre-election statement released today, The Carter Center commended Kenya’s Independent Election and Boundaries Commission on its efforts to keep the Aug. 8 election on track despite many challenges. It noted the heightened political competition in Kenya that has resulted from the devolution of power to the counties and the inclusion of many independent candidates, calling it evidence of a strengthening democratic culture.
At the same time, the Center said it remains concerned about the rising tensions witnessed in the campaigns and the level of violence that has prevailed throughout the pre-election period. Recent calls by President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main challenger, Raila Odinga, for an end to political intolerance are encouraging but insufficient. The Center urges politicians and other key stakeholders to continue to denounce all acts of violence and violations of the electoral Code of Conduct. Candidates also should refrain from using any campaign tactics or language that could incite their supporters to engage in violent or illegal behavior.
The Carter Center conducts election observation missions in accordance with the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct that has been endorsed by 50 election observation groups. Its pre-election statement is based on the work of the Center’s core team and 12 long-term observers, who have been in the country since mid-April and have visited 37 counties and 153 constituencies and attended more than 50 rallies to date.
Shortly before election day, more than 60 short-term observers — led by former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and former Prime Minister of Senegal Aminata Tourė — will join the team on the ground and fan out across the country on election day to assess the voting, counting, and tabulation processes.
Among the key findings and recommendations in the Carter Center’s pre-election statement are:
IEBC. The current IEBC commissioners were appointed only eight months before the general election. Since that time, they have worked to keep the election on track despite many challenges that have delayed preparations. While the IEBC has done a good job in demanding circumstances, its task has been made more difficult by a lack of communication with stakeholders and insufficient transparency about its decision-making. The IEBC should take steps to increase transparency and communication with electoral stakeholders and the general public so that they are effectively informed during the remaining electoral period. Candidates should refrain from making unsubstantiated attacks on the credibility and impartiality of the IEBC and the courts.
Code of Conduct and Election Environment. The intensity of the campaign has increased as election day draws near, bringing an increase in the number of reported violations of the electoral Code of Conduct. Carter Center observers have reported that violations of some parts of the Code of Conduct were not addressed by any of the responsible institutions. The Center encourages the IEBC to be proactive in identifying and prosecuting violations of campaign regulations in last weeks of the campaign. The Center calls on all Kenyan citizens and candidates to commit to holding competitive elections without conflict and to take all steps necessary to secure a peaceful electoral environment.
Voter Education. With less than two weeks until the election, Center observers have noted a lack of education on voting day procedures. The Center urges the IEBC, political parties, and civil society to use the available time before election day to increase voter education and outreach efforts.
Voter Registry and Identification. The IEBC’s dedication to a comprehensive and independent audit of the voter register is a positive sign that it is committed to addressing shortcomings noted in prior elections. While the IEBC has taken efforts to correct inaccuracies in the voter register identified by an independent audit, there was insufficient time to act on all recommendations. As a result, inaccuracies persist, including a high number of deceased voters on the register. The IEBC has correctly argued that the biometric voter identification system is designed to prevent any malpractice on election day. However, its success is dependent on the proper functioning of the nationwide Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) network under full election-day strain. The IEBC should follow through on its plan for a countrywide KIEMS simulation on July 31 to ensure that the technology will function properly and that each polling station has sufficient back-up batteries.
Security Personnel. It is imperative that all security personnel deployed for election day be properly trained and prepared for all eventualities that could emerge to ensure that they respond in an appropriate and impartial manner. It is also important that security forces are not deployed in such a way as to deter voters from voting.
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope." A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.