FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
CONTACT: In Atlanta, Deborah Hakes 1 404-420-5124; In Nairobi, Stéphane Mondon +254721662826
Carter Center observers in Kenya have found the electoral campaign generally peaceful thus far, and the Center urges all Kenyans to commit themselves to nonviolent participation in the electoral process.
The Center's observers report that Kenyans have been able to assemble freely and parties and candidates able to convey their messages to potential voters. The March 4 elections for president, parliament, governors, and county assemblies will be the first held under the new constitution of August 2010. The legal framework, election commission, judiciary, and especially the presidential candidates, are under intense scrutiny following post-election violence in 2007.
In contrast with the chaotic internal primaries organized by a number of political parties, the Center's observers report that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has administered election preparations in a competent manner and has been responsive to the additional pressure to deliver peaceful and credible elections. Of particular note is the election commission's willingness to work with the judiciary during the pre-election period to strengthen Kenyan access to justice and rule of law.
The Carter Center is nevertheless concerned by a number of developments that could undermine the integrity of the electoral process. Among these are the apparent exclusion of a number of youth, women, internally displaced persons, and pastoralists from the voter register; shortcomings in voter education that have led many Kenyans to believe incorrectly that they will be using electronic voting machines; and the complex scale of managing polling, counting, and transmission of results for six ballot papers for different elected offices.
The Carter Center calls on political parties and candidates to abide by the electoral code of conduct and to reiterate their commitment to nonviolent participation in the electoral process and peaceful acceptance of the will of Kenyan voters. Furthermore, the Center calls on Kenyans to play their role in a peaceful election by not succumbing to political manipulation and violence, instead taking their complaints through the legal process to preserve peace and democracy.
The Carter Center launched its election observation mission in Kenya in January 2013 with the deployment of 14 long-term observers from 11 countries. They will be joined by 38 short-term observers from 19 countries to observe voting and counting. The mission will be led by former Zambia President Rupiah Banda and Carter Center Vice President for Peace Programs Dr. John Stremlau.
The Carter Center is observing the elections at the invitation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and will provide an impartial and independent assessment of the electoral process to be made available to Kenyan public and the international community through periodic public statements, available at www.cartercenter.org. The Center makes its assessment based on Kenya's legal framework and its obligations for democratic elections contained in regional and international treaties. The Center's observation mission is conducted in accordance with the Declaration of Principles of International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observation adopted at the United Nations in 2005, and all its observers have signed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Code of Conduct for Election Observers. The Carter Center has observed 93 elections in 37 countries, including the 2002 elections in Kenya.
"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in more than 70 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; improving mental health care; and teaching farmers in developing nations to increase crop production. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and his wife, Rosalynn, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.