Cablegate: Kenya Elections: Commonwealth Observation Group Report
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R 180932Z JAN 08
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TAGS: PGOV PREL KDEM KPAO KE
SUBJECT: KENYA ELECTIONS: COMMONWEALTH OBSERVATION GROUP REPORT
Ref: Bean-AF/E email of 18 Jan 08
1. On January 17, the Commonwealth Observation Group issued its
report on the 2007 Kenyan General Elections. To follow is an
excerpt of the report containing the group's conclusions. The
complete text of the report is available (ref).
The December 27 elections with the ninth general elections in
independent Kenya and the fourth after the restoration of
multi-party democracy in 1992. They were the most competitive in
the country's history with a record number of contestants, 2,458
parliamentary candidates and 15,332 civic (council) nominees
sponsored by an equally record number of political parties. The
2002 general elections attracted 5 presidential, 1,033
parliamentary and 7,009 civic candidates.
The election was also significant considering the scale of logistical
and operational challenges that the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK)
had to put in place for the polls. We had in our Interim Statement
commended the professionalism and commitment of the ECK. As stated in
our Interim Statement, we formed the view that up until the conclusion
of Election Day, we considered the process credible.
However, since polling day it has become obvious that there is a need
to have in place much improved measures to ensure the timely release of
election results and the need to considerably improve the system of
communication between ECK headquarters and the fields.
The events that unfolded since polling day have eroded the confidence
of the people of Kenya. The manner in which the results were announced
has raised suspicion and caused widespread mistrust. It is therefore
our view that the election process following the closing of the
polls fell short of acceptable international standards.
We applaud the people of Kenya for their enthusiasm, determination and
resolve to perform their civic responsibility by turning out in large
numbers to exercise their constitutional rights. Indeed, we note that
this election registered the highest turn out of voters in the
country's history with an increase from 57 percent voter turnout in
2002 to some 65 percent in the 2007 elections.
We regret the disturbing incidence of political violence in some parts
of the country which resulted in several deaths, and the destruction of
property including burning of vehicles. We were saddened to note that,
for the first time in the country's history, more than 100 candidates
contested parliamentary seats. We would encourage the Government and
political parties to initiate measures aimed at increasing women's
participation in the political process, in order to strengthen their
representation at all levels.
We were informed that these elections would, to a large extent, be
overshadowed by ethnic considerations. Our analysis of election results
has corroborated that assertion. We believe that this is a dangerous
trend that must be addressed to ensure national cohesion.