INTERNATIONAL POLL OBSERVERS WARN OF CHAOS IF AUG 8 ELECTIONS ARE MISMANAGED

NAIROBI, International election observer missions here to monitor Kenya’s presidential, parliamentary, gubernatorial and county assembly elections to be held next Tuesday have warned of a risk of chaos if there is a perception that the electoral process is mismanaged.

The groups, which include those from the European Union, the Kenya National Cohesion and Integration Commission (NCIC), as well as several local and civil society organizations, raised these concerns here Thursday ahead of polling on Aug 8.

Kenya has a history of election related violence. An estimated 1,500 people were killed during the 2007-2008 post-election violence following disputed election results.

This year’s high-stake elections have some pollsters describing it as a closely fought race between President Uhuru Kenyatta and his main political rival, former prime minister Raila Odinga. This will be the second time that the two go head to head, this time under a more united opposition.

Electoral-related violence was witnessed after party primaries in April this year, especially in some of the country’s traditional conflict hot spots and Human Rights Watch has reported cases of people moving from their homes for fear of attacks.

In the eye of the political storm is the newly constituted Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), which has been accused of not being ready for the polls. There are also questions about whether the voters register is clean.

Presidential ballot papers are yet to be printed because of a dispute over a printing tender and the opposition has cast doubt on the commission’s ability to deliver free and fair elections.

Civil society organizations also have argued that failure to give timely information to the public by the IEBC has created room for rumour mills and speculation but the IEBC has allayed fears, stating that the polls will free, fair and credible.

Despite warnings of risks of elections chaos, the Kenyan government says it is ready to secure the country during and after the elections.

Source: NAM NEWS NETWORK