Monitors’ delay claim adds to Kenya election crisis

FT
Marietje

EU election monitors have accused the Kenyan government of demanding that they postpone the publication of their final report into the country’s 2017 presidential and parliamentary elections.

The claim comes as President Uhuru Kenyatta attempts to consolidate his legitimacy after an electoral process tarnished by the first nullification of a presidential election result in Africa, an opposition boycott and scores of deaths.

Opposition politicians and civil society activists said that if the claim were true it would undermine Mr Kenyatta.

Marietje Schaake, the Dutch member of the European Parliament who led the observation monitoring team, was due to return to Nairobi this week to present her final report. But she said that the Kenyan government had “made it very clear it was not prepared to receive us”.

Officials said they wanted the report’s publication delayed until the new Kenyan government was in place, Ms Schaake said, a process that is likely to take weeks.

“I can only speculate [why they’re acting as they are] but they’ve said before they were not happy with what we’ve had to say,” Ms Schaake said. “The final report naturally builds on our previous work. It concludes along the same lines.”

Kenya’s supreme court nullified the result of the August 2017 presidential election, in which Mr Kenyatta beat veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, because of illegalities and irregularities it identified in the conduct of the poll.

Mr Odinga withdrew from the rerun election, on October 26, because he claimed that the electoral commission had not been sufficiently reformed to guarantee a credible result. He encouraged his supporters to boycott the poll and Mr Kenyatta won with 98.3 per cent of the votes cast. Turnout was less than half that of the August poll.

The supreme court unanimously rejected two appeals against the result of the second poll but Mr Odinga has refused to recognise Mr Kenyatta’s victory. He is calling for national dialogue to address the electoral crisis and justice for the scores of people killed in violence during the elections.

The EU observers’ preliminary report accused both campaign teams of actions that “have been damaging to the electoral process and have put the people and institutions of Kenya in an extremely difficult position”. Recommended Kenya dances near the brink of dissolution Africa is not immune from secessionist sentiment A Year in a Word: Military-assisted transition. These included “intimidation of the judiciary, attacks on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, introducing uncertainty in the legal framework with last-minute amendments to the electoral law without political consensus, obstruction of the electoral process, some disproportionate actions by the security forces, and shrinking space for civil society”. Neither Amina Mohamed, the foreign minister, nor any government member has been willing to address the monitors’ accusations. Ms Schaake said she would present the final report in Brussels on Wednesday. It is only the third time in approximately 175 such EU election missions that observers have not returned to the host country to deliver their conclusions when they wanted to. The memorandum of understanding between the EU and the Kenyan government says that the observers’ final report should be presented within three months of the election. Dennis Onyango, Mr Odinga’s representative, said the government’s reason was “just an excuse”. “There’s a president and the old ministers are in office so you can’t say there’s not a government,” he said. “I think the government is uncertain about what the report might contain.” John Githongo, a prominent civil society leader and former government anti-corruption tsar, said: “The quality of this election has been ripped to shreds and the government, which is facing a legitimacy crisis, is concerned about its credibility being on the line.”