Kenyans demonstrate strong commitment to democratic elections
Nairobi, 6 March 2013
• Kenya’s General Elections were characterised by a huge society-wide push for peaceful, transparent and credible elections. Kenyans should be congratulated for their civic pride and responsibility, queuing patiently for long hours to cast their vote. While several serious violent incidents occurred in some parts of the country, overall the atmosphere was calm and the democratic spirit of Kenyans prevailed.
• These elections were the first real test of Kenya’s new Constitution, new electoral framework and reformed judiciary. It was an ambitious undertaking to elect the president, the national assembly, the senate, governors and county assemblies in one day. This called for huge efforts on the part of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), as well as dedication on the part of Kenya’s electorate.
• Throughout the electoral preparations, the IEBC retained the electorate’s trust.
Nonetheless, the IEBC’s inconsistent decision making mechanisms drew it into a series of delays. The IEBC and its staff succeeded in overcoming the technical and operational difficulties which arose on Election Day to ensure that the integrity of the vote was protected. The counting and tabulation are still ongoing and represent a crucial part of the process, which EU election observers are following closely around the country.
• Civil society played an active and positive role in supporting the electoral process, with young people playing an important part. Kenya’s state commissions, constitutionally responsible for monitoring and protecting equality and human rights, remained independent and constructive throughout the election.
• Freedom of speech in the media was respected. The media were active in advocating for a peaceful process. They offered extensive coverage of elections and voters were able to access information about contestants and compare candidates in the broadcast debates.
• Despite the quota system and constitutional principles for affirmative action, women’s participation as candidates was disappointingly low. Even so, women were well represented in the electoral administration and committed as voters.
• Some Kenyan communities and marginalised groups remain disenfranchised as a result of not having national ID cards. In addition more than 3m eligible voters were not registered during the biometric voter registration process and were therefore unable to vote in these elections.
• A negative consequence of the amended timelines in the Elections Act was that some candidates who won their High Court bid to be on the ballot were still excluded.