Wednesday, January 2, 2008

European Union dismisses Kenyan poll

The European Union (EU) has dismissed presidential elections as lacking credibility and called for the formation of an independent audit. The Union also rated the just concluded General Election as falling below international and regional standards.

The leader of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, on Tuesday said a lack of transparency in the processing and tallying of presidential results marred the elections. "This raises concerns about the accuracy of the final results of this election," Lambsdorff said.

EU EOM said while the reputation of the ECK chairman, Samuel Kivuitu has been beyond reproach, he could not be exempted from blame based on the prevailing circumstances. Releasing a preliminary report of their mission, Lambsdorff singled out Central Province, where the EU observers were turned away from tallying centres, without being given results.

Lambsdorff said EU observers reported discrepancies in tallied results from Kieni and Molo constituencies, which contained a significantly lower number of votes for one of the candidates than the ones announced at ECK headquarters in Nairobi. Whereas President Kibaki’s tally at ECK headquarters was read as 75,261 from Molo, the actual figure announced by the returning officer was 50,145 while at Kieni, ECK reported that Kibaki scored 72,000 votes contrasting the figures from the ground, which showed he had garnered 54,377.

In Central Province, Lambsdorff said the EU EOM observer teams experienced difficulties obtaining the results for each polling station from returning officers during the tally. Lambsdorff disclosed that in several constituencies, including Mathioya, Kaloleni, Mvita, Kisauni, Changamwe, Likoni and Central/North Imenti, returning officers refused to provide constituency results to EU EOM observers before these were confirmed in Nairobi. "In Imenti South, after the returning officer announced the civic results, he said he was too tired to release the presidential," Lambsdorff said.

Lambsdorff pointed out that the constituency results form in Kangema shown to EU EOM observers, was only signed by a party agent of PNU. A number of party agents, he said, reported that they were refused copies of results forms while the ECK chairman reported some returning officers had disappeared after completion of the tallying in their constituencies. He said lack of transparency as well as a number of verified irregularities therefore cast doubt on the accuracy and credibility of the results of the presidential election as announced by the ECK.

Lambsdorff said that a lack of adequate transparency and security measures in the process of relaying the results from local to national level questioned the integrity of the final results. Consequently, Lambsdorff said the tally at central level suffered from critical absence of detailed procedures from the compilation of results at the central level and combined with a lack of transparency. "At ECK headquarters, the EU EOM electoral expert was forbidden entry into the tallying room on various occasions, despite clear and public instructions from the ECK chairman that he be granted access," Lambsdorff said.

ODM has alleged that clerks at the KICC’s ECK tallying room, where Kibaki’s votes were considerably increased, did tampering with electoral results. Consequently, the EU recommended the swift establishment of an independent investigation to probe the presidential tally. "To enable doubts over the accuracy of the presidential results to be clarified, it is vital that an independent investigation is swiftly conducted and the ECK demonstrates maximum transparency in this period," Lambsdorff said. He said the results of all polling stations must be swiftly published in newspapers and the Internet to undertake the independent audit.

The EU set doubt in Kenya’s electoral dispute resolution mechanism, terming it as lacking in providing sufficient guarantees for redress. Lambsdorff also said the use of multiple lists in polling stations increased the risks of multiple voting. He, however, gave a thumbs-up for the electoral process up until the tabulation, despite what the EU termed ethno-political divisions between Kibaki’s and ODM’s Raila Odinga’s camps. "Problems started after the close of polls and EU observers were turned away from tallying centres, particularly in Central Province," he said.

The EU deployed 152 observers, who visited 752 polling stations. Tuesday’s statement was preliminary. The final report will be published in February.

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