EU URGES DIALOGUE AHEAD OF KENYA’S PRESIDENTIAL RE-RUN

NAIROBI, The European Union (EU) on Friday urged Kenyan political leaders to engage the electoral body in talks aimed at finding an amicable solution to the current standoff ahead of the presidential re-run on Oct. 26.

The EU also called on the political leaders to avoid making unreasonable demands on the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) or threats to boycott the forthcoming elections, as well as avoid attempts to alter the electoral law.

“All parties should seriously engage with the IEBC in a dialogue about processes and procedures, and support its work as it prepares for the new election,” the EU said in a statement issued in Nairobi.

Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) leader Raila Odinga has maintained that he will not participate in the fresh elections until certain reforms and changes are implemented in the IEBC.

The removal of the French firm, which provided the electronic devices used to transmit the election results, has been one of the key demands by NASA before agreeing to participate in the elections.

However, Odinga has said none of the issues raised by the alliance was addressed comprehensively during the Tuesday’s meeting with the IEBC officials.

The opposition leader has since launched twice-weekly street demonstrations to press for the removal of key staff from within the electoral body, which the opposition leaders say was responsible for the nullified polls.

The Supreme Court sitting in Nairobi on Sept. 1 voted 4-2 to nullify President Kenyatta’s re-election with 54 percent of the vote against Odinga’s 44 percent of the vote.

The EU said it is closely following developments in the East African nation ahead of the re-run of the presidential election.

It said with only a few days remaining until the elections, actions and declarations against the IEBC could have an adverse effect on its ability to fulfil its constitutional mandate.

The proposed changes to the electoral laws by the ruling party Jubilee has created division among Kenyans ahead of repeat polls.

While some, in particular, president Uhuru Kenyatta’s supporters, endorsed the changes, those supporting Odinga said the amendments were a rigging plot. Some civil society and religious leaders have also opposed the changes.

One of the radical changes Jubilee proposes is that if only one candidate remains in a fresh presidential election, he or she will be declared president-elect without polls being held.

The bill, currently in Parliament, further proposes a custodial sentence of up to 15 years for any electoral officials who knowingly refuses to sign, submits incomplete forms or willfully alters or falsifies documents relating to elections.

It also proposes to strip the powers of announcing the winner of a presidential poll from the chairman of the electoral commission to any other commissioner.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK