, NAIROBI, Kenya Aug 28 – The Interim Independent Electoral Commission (IIEC) on Friday received admiration from the British High Commission and the US Embassy in Nairobi, over the manner in which it conducted the just-concluded by elections in Shinyalu and Bomachoge constituencies.
British High Commissioner Rob Macaire who led an observer mission to Bomachoge, said the IIEC handled the process well, given that it was the maiden polls the electoral body was handling.
"What we saw was a lot of effort by the presiding officers and by the electoral commission to get it right," he said.
"There were issues but there always are when such matters are organised on short notice. It seems there was a lot of thought going into how to run those elections in a way that helps to restore people’s confidence in the election system."
He said Kenyans should be patient and draw lessons from the just concluded polls ahead of any future major elections.
"I think innovations like switching the presiding officers between the two constituencies to avoid any allegations of interference was notable," Mr Macaire told Capital News in a telephone interview.
He added: "And where there were issues for example of individuals who had names that didn’t appear on the voters register we saw electoral officials trying to sort that out by looking at the old lists that had been complied so that people could be allowed to vote."
On its part, the US embassy commended the Interim Independent Election Commission for conducting the elections in what it termed as "a credible and transparent manner."
"We are encouraged by the IIEC’s professional conduct of the vote in Bomachoge and Shinyalu. However, we are deeply concerned that the by-elections revealed that some politicians continue to act in ways which reflect the culture of impunity. Such conduct is unacceptable to the Kenyan people and to the international community, and those responsible must be held accountable," a statement from the embassy read in part.
The statement however said the by-elections revealed a number of issues which should be addressed in order to further improve the efficiency and fairness of the voting process. It cited isolated instances where presiding officers assisted illiterate voters to vote without the presence of party agents.
The statement added that the electoral process was marred by improper and illegal "old school" political activities intended to unduly influence the electoral outcome.
The US election observer team said they found ample indication that some political candidates and their parties engaged in the purchase of voter cards before the election, bribery of voters during the election, and in Shinyalu, supporters of one candidate reportedly held oathing ceremonies to intimidate voters.
"Agents from ODM, PNU, and KADDU all participated in bribery, according to numerous sources and events witnessed by US observers."
"When possible, US observers called these illegal activities to the attention of the police. We commend the police for taking action in response to these and other reports. We urge that improper and illegal activities be thoroughly investigated and those responsible be prosecuted. We will turn over to relevant authorities specific information obtained by the US observers" the statement said.