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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

EU observers group urging Kenyans to respect court verdict

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM) that monitored the Aug 8 polls has urged Kenyans to respect the Supreme Court ruling which nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.

The EU mission said the Supreme Court ruling demonstrated the independence of Kenya’s judiciary and the effective electoral complaint mechanism in place.

"We have followed the petitions process with our observers in the Supreme Court.

"We have seen that the Court has worked diligently, openly and thoroughly despite short timelines," said the mission in a statement issued on Friday night.

"The mission has noted that lawyers of different teams have appreciated the Supreme Court for providing an enabling environment.

"The mission will review the detailed judgment once it is available," it said.

The observers said they have consistently encouraged Kenyans to use the courts for peaceful dispute resolution, saying the petition process is a core part of an election.

The statement came hours after the apex court called for a new election within 60 days after finding irregularities in the re-election of Kenyatta in last month’s elections.

The court ruled that the presidential elections were not conducted in accordance with the constitution rendering the result invalid, null and void.

The court said that Kenyatta was not validly elected.

Four out of six judges ruled in favor of the petition filed by opposition leader Raila Odinga who had claimed that the electronic voting results were hacked into and manipulated in favor of Kenyatta.

Odinga secured 44.7 percent of votes and Kenyatta lead with 54.3 percents, according to election commission figures.

Nearly 80 percent of the 19 million registered voters cast their ballots.

The EU observers called on the election administration to consult with stakeholders, to work transparently and to give regular updates on progress being made.

"We also call on all parties and candidates to do their part to support a smooth re-run.

"Agents need to be present in polling stations and tallying centers and need to be able to see and check details," the observers said.

The mission’s preliminary statement on Aug. 10 lauded the entire electoral process up to and including counting.

However, it said some shortcomings were noted, including inconsistent procedures for the complementary mechanisms used and staff difficulties in completing results forms.

The EU mission on Aug. 16 called for the electoral body to publish all results forms (34As and 34Bs), as the delay in publication was problematic, saying full transparency is necessary for all stakeholders to have confidence in the announced results.
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UPDATES:

African Union urges people of Kenya to respect judgment of Supreme Court

ADDIS ABABA Ethiopia (Xinhua) -- The African Union (AU) has urged the people of Kenya to respect the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The Chairperson of the AU Commission, Moussa Faki Mahamat, has taken note of the Judgment of Supreme Court of Kenya delivered on 1 Sept. 2017 nullifying the result of the presidential election held on 8 Aug. 2017 in the East African country.

The chairperson has further taken note of the order by the Supreme Court to hold fresh presidential election within a period of 60 days as per the Constitution, according to a statement of the Pan-African bloc on later Friday.

He has expressed his satisfaction that the candidates opted for legal recourse to the dispute arising from the election.

He recognizes that the judgment advances a culture of democracy and peace, constitutionalism and rule of law in Kenya and Africa in general as enshrined in the 2000 AU Constitutive Act and the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance.

The chairperson has called on all the people of Kenya to fully respect the decision of the Supreme Court and to maintain peace among themselves and, therefore, repeat what they did so admirably prior to, during and in the immediate aftermath of the elections of Aug. 8.

He has implored all candidates, political parties and coalitions to exercise their leadership to encourage their supporters and population as a whole to fully accept the judgment of the Supreme Court.

The chairperson has further urged all the stakeholders to cooperatively take all necessary measures with a view to ensuring the successful conduct of the fresh election.

The AU Commission, in collaboration with regional economic communities/regional mechanisms, will continue to closely monitor the electoral process with a view to ensuring that the will of the Kenyan people is fully respected, the statement read.
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United States observer mission welcome Kenyan court verdict on presidential polls

NAIROBI Xinhua) -- The nullification of Kenya’s Aug. 8 presidential election results by the country’s Supreme Court on Friday has been hailed by foreign observer missions, which termed it a historic milestone in reaffirming the role of independent institutions in promoting transparency and the rule of law.

The U.S.-based Carter Center said the decision by the Supreme Court to annul the disputed presidential election results was timely to ease political tensions in Kenya.

"The Carter Center commends the Supreme Court for conducting an open and transparent judicial process, which gave all parties the opportunity to be heard and ensured due process consistent with the constitution and laws of Kenya," the Center said in a statement issued on Friday night.

Four out of six judge bench at the Supreme Court on Friday declared the election of the incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta invalid citing massive irregularities in counting and transmission of votes.

Kenyatta’s opposition rival, Raila Odinga from National Super Alliance (NASA) party contested the election results and filed a petition at the apex court to have them overturned.

Foreign observer missions had endorsed the voting exercise, declaring it peaceful, free and fair.

They later expressed reservations on electronic transmission of votes and urged the electoral body to make it more transparent.

The Carter Center on Aug. 17 urged the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to publish election results in order to ease doubts on their authenticity.

It noted that Friday’s annulment of presidential election results injected vitality in the capacity of the judiciary to midwife peaceful political transition in Kenya.

"The ruling is both important and encouraging because it highlights the independence of the Kenyan judiciary and its important role as a key institutional pillar in Kenya’s democracy," said the mission.
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EARLIER REPORTS:

Kenya’s Odinga opts for legal redress to election dispute amid nationwide jitters

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The decision by Kenya’s opposition leader, Raila Odinga to challenge the presidential election outcomes in the Supreme Court instead of resorting to mass action has earned him accolades from the public and foreign allies.

Odinga in his eagerly awaited announcement on his next political move on Wednesday said his NASA coalition will lay bare gross electoral malpractices that unfairly benefitted his rival President Uhuru Kenyatta who won the race.

The 72-year-old veteran opposition leader who was making his fourth stab at the presidency made a tactical retreat from an earlier opposition to seeking legal redress to the election dispute in the Supreme Court, which had opened a floodgate of speculations and anxieties in the country.

Odinga was however emphatic that civil disobedience was not off the table despite his party’s decision to file a case in the Supreme Court to challenge Kenyatta’s victory.

He also took a swipe at foreign observer missions who gave the just concluded elections a clean bill of health and castigated the State’s attempt to gag rights groups that had earlier expressed interest in challenging the presidential election outcomes in the courts of law.

"By going to court, we are not legitimizing misplaced calls by some observers for us to concede but are seeking to give to those who braved long lines in the morning chill and hot afternoon a chance to be heard," said Odinga.

"We are also acting on behalf of those who have been blocked from seeking redress in courts such as the clampdown on civil society that have attempted to go to court.

"NASA wants to show the world what transpired in the fraud," he added.

Legal experts who spoke after Odinga disclosed his intentions to challenge presidential election outcomes in the Supreme Court said the success of his case hinged on presenting credible and watertight evidence to the panel of seven judges.

Kamotho Waiganjo, a Nairobi-based legal analyst noted that Odinga had made a strategic move by agreeing to file his case on disputed election outcomes at the Supreme Court but it was imperative to arm himself with tight evidence.

"The legal option that Odinga and his NASA Co-Principals settled for is sound and a welcome respite to post-poll anxieties.

"However, he must present authentic documents illustrating how the results were manipulated," said Waiganjo.

He added that the heaviest responsibility lay with Supreme Court judges whom the Kenyan public and foreign allies expected to deliver an impartial ruling to quell post-election jitters.

During the televised address, Odinga was adamant that his victory was stolen through a well orchestrated plot by his political nemesis who gained access to the electoral agency’s servers and manipulated results in favor of the incumbent.

He vowed to present water tight evidence in the Supreme Court to illustrate the depth of manipulation and fraud that denied him victory.

"From the start, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was illegally releasing unverified results to create the expectation of an Uhuru Kenyatta victory," said Odinga.

"Then there was the bizarre phenomenon of Kenyatta’s "lead" staying at around a consistent 11 percent throughout the release of the results!

"Such a fixed margin has never been maintained throughout any democratic election anywhere in the world," he added.

He condemned what he termed as premature declaration of Kenyatta’s win in the absence of supporting documents.

"At midnight last Friday, we saw the IEBC announce that Kenyatta had been elected president, even though the Commission continued to acknowledge that only about 29,000 of the 41,000 verified Forms 34As had been tallied!" Odinga quipped.

U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec welcomed the move by Odinga to pursue legal mechanism in challenging Kenyatta’s victory.

"We welcome the decision by Kenya’s opposition alliance, NASA, to go to the Supreme Court with its concerns regarding the results of the presidential poll.

The Supreme Court is the constitutional venue to address disputes," Godec said.

"We look forward to the court resolving the questions NASA has raised in accordance with the rule of law and in the light of the evidence," he added.

Odinga who unsuccessfully contested an election in 2013, sparking violent post-election protests, curtailed potential violence by taking his case to court.

Judges eventually ruled in 2013 that much of his evidence was being submitted outside time limits set by the court, frustrating his supporters and sparking suspicion over the judiciary’s independence.

However, he vowed on Wednesday to soldier on with his quest for a fair, just and democratic society even as he sought legal redress to electoral malpractices that denied his victory on August 8 when Kenyans cast the ballot in large numbers.

"We have the right and indeed the high responsibility to defend the Constitution and the people’s will. Peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Constitution, so is civil disobedience. So is the right for labor to strike," said Odinga.

He at the same time expressed skepticism on the ability of the Supreme Court to deliver a fair ruling given the history of meddling by the Executive Branch of the government.

"Our decision to go to court constitutes a second chance for the Supreme Court.

The Court can use this chance to redeem itself, or, like in 2013 when we filed a petition, it can compound the problems we face as a country," Odinga added.
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AUGUST 17, 2017:

United States observers urge Kenya’s poll body to finalize posting of results

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The U.S. observer mission on Thursday called on Kenya’s electoral body to finalize posting of presidential election results.

The Carter Center said in a statement in Nairobi that the availability of the complete set of forms would enable independent verification of the results used by the commission to declare the re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

"Access to official results data is critical for interested parties so that they can crosscheck and verify results, and exercise their right to petition if necessary," the observers said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The U.S.-based observer group noted that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has posted on its website the constituency-level results (Form 34B), which include a list of the individual polling-station results.

The electoral body has also indicated that most of the polling-station results forms (34A) are also posted on its website and that the outstanding polling stations will be posted soon.

"The Center urges the IEBC to finalize the posting of the 34As as expeditiously as possible, noting the Aug. 18 deadline for filing challenges to the presidential election results," the observers said.

According to the Center, publishing results by polling station is an internationally recognized means to ensure transparent electoral processes and increase public confidence in the integrity of the results.

The Carter Center which is monitoring the electoral process in Kenya, including the tallying and public posting of official results and the judicial review of any electoral petitions.

The statement comes after the Opposition has accused the electoral agency of planning to forge forms 34B by delaying to make them available.

This comes after one presidential candidate said Tuesday found anomalies in the results.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected in the Aug. 8 vote but Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected the results saying the election was rigged.

The opposition leader claims the election was rigged in favor of Kenyatta through the hacking and manipulation of the electronic vote-counting system.

At a news conference on Wednesday, Odinga did not provide evidence of rigging but promised to do so in Supreme Court by Friday.

His decision to go to the judiciary relieved many Kenyans who feared a repeat of the violence that followed a 2007 vote when Odinga called for protests.

The rigging claims sparked violent protests in the opposition stronghold between police and civilians protesting the results after the electoral commission declared Kenyatta the winner on Aug. 11.

The Center regretted the instances of violence and the loss of life that occurred during and after the elections and called on the police to protect Kenyan citizens and their right to freely assemble.

"The police should refrain from excessive use of force and protect Kenyan citizens as they exercise their constitutional right to freedom of expression," it said.

The observers also called on the government to ensure medical and humanitarian assistance to those in need and calls for full investigations of instances of inappropriate or excessive use of force.
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AUGUST 16, 2017:

European Union observers urge Kenya’s poll body to swiftly publish result forms

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) election observer mission (EOM) on Wednesday called on Kenya’s electoral commission to promptly publish all results forms online to help promote confidence through transparency.

The EU observers who have been monitoring closely the on-going election process, including tallying and the petitions process also called for rule of law to be followed and space for civil society to operate freely.

"The availability of results forms at all levels enables trust by allowing all stakeholders to have confidence in and insight into the totals announced," the observer mission said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

The observers said the 34B forms from the 290 constituency tallying centers are critical, as these include a full breakdown of results by polling stations.

"Online availability of the 34B forms, as well as the remaining 34A forms (containing individual polling station results), would enable all stakeholders to examine the accuracy of the announced results and point to any possible anomalies," the mission said.

The statement comes after the Opposition has accused the electoral agency of planning to forge forms 34B by delaying to make them available.

This comes after one presidential candidate said Tuesday found anomalies in the results.

But the electoral commission said about 2,900 of the 41,000 forms showing results at individual polling stations were not yet online.

President Uhuru Kenyatta was re-elected in the Aug. 8 vote but Opposition leader Raila Odinga has rejected the results saying the election was rigged. He was due to make a major announcement later Wednesday.

The EU observers said the timing of such information being made public is critical given that petitions relating to the presidential race must be filed within seven days of the results announcement, thus by the end of Friday.

"While parties at different levels of the process can in principle have access to forms through their agents, civil society and the wider public also need to be able to scrutinise and see the official basis for announced results," they said.

The EU observer mission urged any party or candidate with a grievance to provide clear evidence to substantiate their claims and also to use the prescribed legal mechanisms.

"The EU EOM will carefully look at concerns raised and at the judicial petitions processes.

"The EU EOM calls on all political leaders to seek only peaceful public responses," the mission said.

The observers said they were deeply disturbed by the violence and deaths that have taken place and called on the state authorities to police effectively and to bring order without increasing tensions or using live fire.

"The EU EOM calls for state security agencies to be transparent in explaining their approach to security, to provide the public with reliable information about fatalities and injuries, and to undertake investigations for full accountability of state and other actors," the missions aid.

"The mission encourages political leaders to use their authority to promote peace and to call for calm and restraint," the EU observers said and condemned the harassment of civil society organizations.
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AUGUST 12, 2017:

Global think tank calls for restraint in Kenya amid post-election chaos

by David Musyoka NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- A global conflict resolution think tank on Saturday called on Kenya’s political leaders from both sides to demonstrate restraint and responsibility amid political violence in some parts of the East African nation.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) in particular urged opposition leader Raila Odinga who has rejected the presidential results in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner, to take any challenge of the outcome to the courts and not the streets.

The think tank said the 72-year-old Odinga should urge his supporters to remain calm and firmly denounce any violence against security forces.

"For his part, Kenyatta should be magnanimous in victory, reach out to opposition supporters and fulfill his pledge to run an inclusive government in his second term," the policy group said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

It called on security forces to avoid escalating the situation and display conflict-sensitive policing aimed at defusing tensions.

ICG said Kenyan voters displayed remarkable patience and enthusiasm on voting day, a welcome endorsement of democracy at a time of discernible regression in other parts of the continent.

"Yet this election is but one step on Kenya’s path to greater stability and democracy.

"Odinga’s rejection of the results, and the backing he received from his supporters, illustrates how deeply skeptical many Kenyans remain toward their public institutions," it said.

The think tank said the electoral commission will need to build confidence in its systems, while ensuring that logistical and technical preparations as well as proper civic education take place well ahead of the next polls.

"The next government must address key drivers of electoral violence, especially the ethnic divisions that continue to bedevil Kenya and its politics," ICG said.

Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday to vote in a fiercely contested presidential election, which in the last week of campaigning saw the murder of a senior election official and claims of vote rigging.

Odinga has claimed the vote-counting system was hacked and manipulated; the opposition released its own vote tallies claiming Odinga had won by a wide margin.

However, the electoral body has denied these charges.

Violent protests erupted in parts of Nairobi and the western town of Kisumu on Friday, resulting in nine deaths in Nairobi alone.

In Kenya in 2007, when the election result was disputed, more than 1,000 people died and about 650,000 people were displaced.

According to ICG, the next government must address key drivers of electoral violence, especially the ethnic divisions that continue to bedevil Kenya and its politics.

The think tank cautioned that threats remain and the road ahead is certain to be bumpy as it remains unclear how Odinga’s supporters will react to his rejection of the results. Sustained protests are possible if he refuses to concede.

           

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