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Carter Center Urges Kenya’s Political Leaders to Agree on Key Changes Necessary to Implement Court Ruling for New Election

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison, soyia.ellison@cartercenter.org
In Nairobi, Don Bisson, don.bisson@cartercenter.org 

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NAIROBI — The Carter Center today issued a statement urging Kenya’s political leaders to work with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to come to a consensus on the changes necessary to hold Oct. 26’s presidential election in accordance with the ruling of the Supreme Court, which ordered the fresh polls.

The Carter Center has had a core team of experts in Kenya since April, monitoring key parts of the electoral process, including voter registration, campaigning, electoral preparations, and the recent resolution of disputes in the courts. That team was joined by a large group of observers who helped monitor voting, counting, and tallying in the days surrounding the Aug. 8 election.

Now, at the invitation of the IEBC, the Center plans to extend its presence to observe the Oct. 26 election. Long-term and short-term observers will join the core team in Nairobi on Oct. 4 and Oct. 20, respectively, to observe critical pre- and post-election processes, as well as voting, counting, and tabulation. The Center will continue to engage with electoral stakeholders and to observe the steps taken by the IEBC and the parties to comply with the court ruling.

Today’s statement includes recommendations related to the preparations for the fresh election to help ensure that it complies with the court’s ruling, as well as key observations from the Center’s team on the overall process to date.

Background

On Sept. 1, 2017, in an historic and precedent-setting ruling, Kenya’s Supreme Court annulled the results of the Kenya presidential election held on Aug. 8, finding that the election was not held in compliance with the Kenyan constitution and the electoral legal framework, and ordering a fresh election within 60 days.

In the court’s Sept. 20 written decision detailing its reasoning for annulling the results, the court found that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to organize the election in compliance with the constitutional requirement that all elections be simple, secure, transparent, and verifiable. In response to the court ruling, which specifically cited non-compliance with the electoral provisions governing the transmission of results, the IEBC announced steps to comply with the court’s ruling and pledged to enhance transparency and accountability.

The Center welcomes the IEBC’s efforts to engage more openly with key stakeholders and to allow greater access to the commission’s information technology systems. With the fresh election only weeks away, it is essential for Kenya’s political party leaders to work with the IEBC to achieve consensus on measures to improve the process and implement the fresh election within the constitutional deadlines. The agreed-upon measures should be guided by the court’s written ruling and ensure that the fresh election will be transparent and verifiable, with parties and observers given the required access to observe all aspects of the electoral process and to verify the results on a timely basis.

The reaction of both the main candidates and campaigns to the court’s decision has not been conducive to the holding of credible elections on Oct. 26. The Center urges the two candidates to refrain from attacks on the Supreme Court and the IEBC, which only serve to undermine the independence of the judiciary and reduce public trust in the IEBC. Moving forward, the candidates and their respective supporters should focus on the campaign and discuss the issues that affect the daily lives of all Kenyans and the differences between their policy approaches. The Kenyan people deserve this type of campaign.

Recommendations

  1. The IEBC should be transparent and involve all key electoral players in the planning process of the fresh elections, including by holding regular consultative stakeholder forums to consult and update the players on its progress. In addition, the IEBC should communicate regularly with the public, providing updates on the electoral planning process and alerting the public to challenges and corrective measures put into place to address them. Political parties should engage constructively with the IEBC to facilitate its work.
  2. The IEBC should take the necessary steps based on the court ruling to ensure compliance with the legal provisions regarding result tallying and announcements. As the court stated, tallying of the presidential results should be preceded by receipt and verification of all polling station results forms (34As), checked against entries in the constituency center results forms (34Bs), as provided for in the Elections Act.
  3. It is essential that the IEBC ensure that the constituency-level form 34Bs are standardized, the official form is the form used by returning officers, and that forms bear all security features and signatures of presiding and returning officers and agents. If an agent refuses to sign, an annotation of the same should be made on the form as required by the law. Handover and takeover sections of result forms should also be duly signed and stamped.
  4. Training of poll staff should incorporate corrective measures based on the court’s ruling so that returning officers are fully aware of their responsibility to follow the electoral law and regulations.
  5. The IEBC should comply with the court order and ensure that there is a complementary mechanism in place to guarantee a seamless process in case of technology failure. The IEBC should further ensure that electoral stakeholders are aware of complementary mechanism procedures.
  6. It is critically important that political parties stop attacks on the Supreme Court and IEBC and focus on the issues impacting the Kenyan voter. They also should work to ensure broad coverage of political party agents across polling stations and especially at the constituency tallying centers. These agents should be well prepared to monitor the counting, tallying, and transmission processes.
  7. To enhance the public trust in the KIEMS system and ensure it is functioning properly for the election, the IEBC should conduct a nationwide public test of the results transmission system before the fresh election. The timely testing of KIEMS and other electronic systems necessary to the successful conduct of the election is of vital importance to identify and correct problems, provide transparency, and enhance public trust in the operation of the system. Deficiencies that contributed to problems with the results transmission that occurred in the August election might have been identified and corrected had sufficient testing taken place.
  8. The IEBC should grant access to its IT system for inspection and audit by independent IT experts and those from political parties, and interested civil society organizations (CSOs) as ordered by the court. This is especially important because the court found that this type of access is constitutionally mandated as part of the transparency requirement.
  9. CSOs should continue to play a key role in observing and assessing the electoral process. In the Aug. 8 election, they provided independent and comparative reports, with recommendations for improving the electoral process, providing an important baseline analysis on which to measure Kenya’s democratic development. They should continue this activity for the fresh election.

Statement | Carter Center Urges Kenya's Political Leaders to Agree on Key Changes Necessary to Implement Court Ruling for New Elections »

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"Waging Peace. Fighting Disease. Building Hope."
A not-for-profit, nongovernmental organization, The Carter Center has helped to improve life for people in over 80 countries by resolving conflicts; advancing democracy, human rights, and economic opportunity; preventing diseases; and improving mental health care. The Carter Center was founded in 1982 by former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and former First Lady Rosalynn Carter, in partnership with Emory University, to advance peace and health worldwide.

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