Ensure a flawless poll, says US lobby

Saturday May 5 2012

By BENJAMIN MUINDI [email protected]

Kenya is not ready for a democratic and violence-free General Election, a Washington-based political lobby group said on Saturday.

The American-funded National Democratic Institute (NDI) listed 44 issues it said the country needed to address to ensure the country did not slide into violence akin to the one witnessed after the 2007 General Election.

Top among them included the removal of uncertainties surrounding the date of the General Election, difficulties in obtaining identity cards and ensuring that the government did not become a stumbling block for the International Criminal Court’s jurisprudence in Kenya.

A pre-election delegation of the NDI led by former President of Botswana Quette Ketumile Masire, American human rights activist Martin Luther III and chairperson of the National Electoral Commission of Sierra Leone concluded that the country needed to do more to guarantee a flawless election.

This was after the team, accompanied by top NDI officials Patrick Merloe and Dr Keith Jennings, held 25 meetings with both government and non-government agencies discussing issues surrounding the country’s next General Election.

“Remarkable progress has been accomplished in reforming the framework for Kenya’s elections, of which citizens can be proud.

“However, immediate and concerted efforts are needed to prevent political violence and to remove uncertainties in the electoral environment that could threaten the integrity of elections,” former president Masire said.

He noted that the hope that Kenyans drew from the passage of the new Constitution and related reforms was being challenged by “delays in completing enabling laws and troubling incidents of violence, which may be politically-motivated and incitement of ethnic tensions”.

“All sectors of the Kenyan society – and political leaders – should focus sharply and work diligently at this stage to ensure that the potential for peaceful, credible elections is realised.”

The leaders read the statement at the Serena Hotel in Nairobi where a deal brokered by former United Nations boss Kofi Annan was sealed to end violence in Kenya in 2008.

The lobbyists noted that the country needed to prevent the on-going proceedings at the International Criminal Court from polarising the country further.

“What is of importance here is that the country should allow the cases to move forward without complications,” Mr Merloe said.