Carter Center Urges Parties to Engage in Dialogue and Refrain from Violence; Deploys Limited Observation Mission for Kenya’s Oct. 26 Elections

Contact: In Atlanta, Soyia Ellison,
In Nairobi, Don Bisson,

NAIROBI — The current political and electoral context in Kenya is marked by increased insecurity, a lack of dialogue, and narrowing prospects for a credible presidential election on Oct. 26. Therefore, The Carter Center urges Kenya’s key political leaders to use the limited time remaining before the scheduled polls to engage in dialogue to find a mutually acceptable way forward so that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) can conduct fresh presidential elections in a peaceful and secure environment.

Although the IEBC has taken steps to improve the technical conduct of the election following the Supreme Court’s Sept. 1 ruling annulling the August election, and Chairman Wafula Chebukati has indicated that the IEBC is technically prepared to conduct the polls, recent statements by Chebukati make clear that the current political impasse constrains the IEBC’s ability to conduct a credible election. Notwithstanding the 60-day deadline mandated by the Supreme Court to hold the fresh election, there are cases pending before the court that could result in a decision to delay the elections. Any such delay should be used to ensure that the political leaders and the IEBC agree quickly on parameters so that a competitive, inclusive, and credible election can be held as soon as possible.

“Given the heightened political tensions, it is imperative that Kenya’s political leaders find a mutually acceptable path forward for holding credible democratic elections,” said former U.S. President Jimmy Carter.  “If sanctioned by the Supreme Court, the main political leaders should signal their support for a short delay in the elections to allow space for renewed dialogue and to agree on any additional electoral reforms necessary to enable credible elections.”

The continued refusal of the two candidates to meet jointly with the IEBC to discuss an agreed-upon way forward has exacerbated an already precarious situation. Raila Odinga, the main opposition candidate and leader of the National Super Alliance (NASA), has indicated that he will not take part in the election and has threatened that NASA supporters might try to disrupt the polls. In the face of such disruptions, and the potential response by security forces, there is a serious risk of election-related violence should the elections go forward, especially in areas with strong NASA support. While Odinga has recently called on his supporters to refrain from violence, it remains to be seen what will transpire. The recent disturbances by NASA supporters to prevent the IEBC from training staff in the party’s strongholds are troubling and unacceptable. Election officials should not fear for their safety in the conduct of their duties.

If there are disruptions, it is incumbent upon President Uhuru Kenyatta and other state actors to exercise restraint when confronted by citizens who are exercising their right to protest peacefully. Security forces should refrain from excessive use of force and take all measures to facilitate an environment in which all Kenyan citizens can securely exercise their right to vote. Officers found to use excessive and disproportionate force should be held accountable for their actions. Any injury or death related to an election is unacceptable and a tragedy both for those families affected and for the country. 

Because of the growing insecurity, the uncertain political environment, and the lack of a fully competitive election, The Carter Center does not plan to deploy a full election observation mission to assess the Oct. 26 election.  Instead, the Center will deploy a limited observation mission with 10 long-term observers and a small team of election experts to assess the general electoral environment, and key procedural changes implemented by the IEBC, especially related to tallying processes at the constituency tally centers.  Given the small size of the team, the Center will not conduct a robust assessment of polling station level processes. 


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. Following the Sept. 1 decision by the Supreme Court to annul the August election, the Center was invited by the IEBC to extend its presence to observe the Oct. 26 fresh election. Long-term observers rejoined the core team on Oct. 4 and have been deployed to various locations in the country to observe critical pre- and post-election processes.

The Center has issued several public statements throughout the process regarding its observation and findings, including a pre-election statement on July 27, a preliminary statement about the Aug. 8 election on Aug. 10, another statement regarding the tabulation process on Aug. 17, and two statements on the Supreme Court ruling and its implementation on Sept. 1 and Oct. 4. These public statements are available at


"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.

Donate Now

Sign Up For Email

Please sign up below for important news about the work of The Carter Center and special event invitations.

Please leave this field empty
Now, we invite you to Get Involved

Learn More

Back To Top