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Monday, January 14, 2008

"Kivuitu displayed incompetence and weakness," say EAC Observers

The East African Community has criticised the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) for mismanaging the tallying of the presidential elections.

In a report about the elections, the EAC observer mission said the ECK chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, displayed incompetence and weakness in the final management of the electoral process. “A number of utterances made by the ECK chairman cast doubt on the integrity and credibility of the elections. The mission noted with concern the slow process of collation and tallying of the presidential results, which led to heightened tension in several parts of the country leading to violent riots,” the report notes.

“Delayed relaying of results from strongholds of one of the presidential candidates fuelled speculation and fear that results were tampered with. Some parties raised concern regarding the mode and timing of appointing some ECK commissioners,” the report added. Kivuitu exhibited no control over the process of tallying and announcement of results," it stated.

“The post polling day was characterised by uncoordinated and suspect actions, which include among others statements by the chairman of the ECK to the effect that he could not trace some of his returning officers who had disappeared with the results and had switched off their phones. “In addition, he also stated that he would declare the results with or without the returns, which he did not do. The delay in the announcement of the results plus the shortcomings mentioned above resulted in gross mismanagement of the tallying process and declarations of the presidential results. This critically undermined the credibility of the final stage of electoral process,” the report notes.

The mission condemned the resultant violence and regretted the loss of life and property.

The EAC was prompted by the need “to look out for best electoral practices that could be emulated in the region to observe the elections. The team consisted of East African Legislative Assembly (EALA) members from Uganda and Tanzania, as well as professional staff from the EAC secretariat. The mission was led by Uganda’s Mike Sebalu. It urged the EAC summit to take an active role and be at the forefront of the process towards a just and lasting solution to the crisis, enactment of a uniform electoral law and establishment of the East African electoral commission.

“Anomalies cited in the tallying process should be investigated and the ECK officials and any other persons found to be held responsible.”

On Saturday, the European Union and the United States warned that there could be “no business as usual” with Kenya unless a political compromise was agreed that would restore stability.

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