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Kenyan People Made their Voices Heard in Peaceful, Credible Elections

Thursday, August 10, 2017

NAIROBI, KENYA -- The National Democratic Institute's (NDI) international election delegation to Kenya's August 8 general elections released a preliminary election statement assessing the credibility of the election. The delegation found that the people of Kenya made their voices heard in a peaceful fashion through credible election processes.

According to delegation co-leader Dr. Aisha Laraba Abdullahi, Former Commissioner for Political Affairs, African Union, “Candidates and their supporters should see the results tabulation process through to its conclusion in a peaceful manner. They should document challenges they might take before the courts. Electoral authorities should complete the determination of the presidential outcome within the seven-day constitutional timeframe in a transparent manner.”

Voters turned out in very large numbers, and they waited patiently in long lines to cast their votes. “The Kenyan people have a lot to proud of. I’d give anything to have a turnout like that back home,” said delegation co-leader U.S. Representative Karen Bass (CA), Ranking Member, Ranking Member, Africa Subcommittee, House Foreign Affairs Committee.

The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) delivered well-managed polls, even though it faced serious challenges in the few months it had leading to the vote. Late openings in many polling places contributed to waits but did not appear to dent the voters’ resolve. Electronic voter check-in technology worked smoothly in the vast majority of polling places, and election officials worked long hours with determination to carry out their duties according to law.

According to co-leader Christine Todd Whitman, former Governor of New Jersey, “The mood on Election Day was very positive. There were welcoming smiles. Babies on the backs of their mothers had their fingers inked! It was a pleasure to observe.”

Women participated in large numbers on election day and were well represented among the IEBC’s staff, political party agents, and Kenyan election observers. Party agents from competing sides and independent candidate agents, as well as nonpartisan election monitors, were present at the vast majority of polling locations observed. Security officers were deployed at polling locations as well. News media (including Kenyan and international, traditional and digital) provided robust coverage of election developments, which contributed to public awareness and helped dispel rumors.

Electronic transmission of polling station results allowed the IEBC to present the aggregated presidential vote at the national level, though digital display of the corresponding declaration of results forms (Form 34A for each polling station) was significantly delayed, contrary to expectations. Their display would allow candidates to compare copies of the forms provided to their agents at polling stations with the national database in order to confirm data and/or identify inconsistencies. The IEBC pledged that no final presidential outcome will be announced until all electronically transmitted copies of Forms 34A and corresponding Forms 34B from the constituency tally centers are reconciled with their original signed copies. “The problem in publicly displaying the declaration of results forms indicates why it's important to have open electoral data to safeguard integrity,” said delegation co-leader Professor Attahiru Jega, Former Chairman, Independent National Election Commission of Nigeria.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) alleged on August 9 that the IEBC database was hacked on election night, and a large-scale addition of votes for the Jubilee Party’s presidential candidate took place. The IEBC Chairman firmly denied the allegation. The IEBC’s process of comparing original tally sheets, which are legally recognized documents, to the database results should reveal whether that took place and simultaneously preserve the integrity of the process. The verification of polling procedures and results tabulation based on a nationally representative statistical model (commonly referred to as a nonpartisan parallel vote tabulation) conducted by the Elections Observation Group (ELOG) should provide a critical independent safeguard of electoral integrity.

The delegation would like to draw attention to NDI’s August 1 statement concerning the brutal murder of the IEBC’s IT manager Mr. Christopher Msando, where the Institute expressed its deepest condolences and joined with those calling for protection of IEBC staff and a full and effective investigation to bring the perpetrators to justice. “The NDI delegation deplores any violence inside or outside the electoral context,” said delegation co-leader Honorable Justice Yvonne Mokgoro, Former Justice, Constitutional Court of South Africa. “NDI will continue to monitor and to engage with Kenyans working to ensure the integrity of their democratic process.”

RECOMMENDATIONS

The delegation urges Kenyan electoral actors to address immediate challenges during the consolidation of results and to apply lessons from the 2017 elections to benefit the post-election political process. In its final report, NDI will offer further, longer-term recommendations concerning enhancing inclusion in political processes and improving electoral processes. In the spirit of international cooperation, the delegation offers the following recommendations, which it believes would strengthen the Kenyan electoral framework.

To the IEBC:

  • Ensure timely and periodic communications to the Kenyan people and political contestants about the results tallying process, including any issues that may complicate the completion of the process within the constitutional timeframe.
  • Provide complete and timely polling station level results in an easily analyzable format.
  • Make copies of the scanned 34A and 34B Forms available to the public in a timely manner, as well as the Declaration of Results Forms for the other elections.

To political parties and candidates:

  • Publicly and vigorously encourage supporters to refrain from any acts of violence and/or intimidation.
  • Seek redress for electoral complaints through proper legal channels and abide by the outcomes of judicial proceedings.

To the Government of Kenya and the Judiciary:

  • Ensure that information about how to file election-related petitions is widely publicized in forms that are accessible for electoral contestants and the general public, including persons with disabilities and persons with limited literacy.
  • Regularly inform the public about progress made into the investigation of the death of IEBC IT Manager Chris Msando.

To security forces:

  • Demonstrate professionalism and exercise reasonable restraint in the maintenance of order if called upon to respond to any security incidents in the post-election period.
  • Provide particular instructions to deployed security forces on recognizing and addressing violence against women in elections, including through connecting victims to crisis hotlines and rapid response mechanisms.

To civil society and the media:

  • Continue to actively monitor electoral processes, including the determination of electoral results and any legal processes related to the August 8 elections.
  • Continue to monitor and engage citizens in identifying incidents of hate speech and incitement to violence and coordinate with early warning/early response efforts.
  • Engage in responsible, fact-based coverage of post-election developments.
  • Civil society and media houses as well as the IEBC should actively address rumors and fake information in the post-election period in order to provide citizens with information they need to enhance political and governmental accountability.

To the people of Kenya:

  • Exercise restraint as you await the final electoral outcome, continuing the peaceful example set throughout the country on August 8.

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Kenya IOM Karen Bass
Kenya August 2017 International Observation Mission Delegates Abdullahi, Bass and Whitman
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