NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 2 – German Ambassador to Kenya Margit Hellwig on Tuesday supported the move by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) cancelling plans to use biometric registration, in the forthcoming elections, in favour of manual registration.
Hellwig told Capital FM News that the decision would help the electoral commission make adequate preparations for the polls following the tendering row that surrounded the biometric registration process.
She asked Kenyans to continue supporting the IEBC so as to enable it conduct a free and fair election.
“Of course this tender procedure was a bit unclear to those who observed it from the outside but I think it is history now. The IEBC should receive support from all those who have an interest in credible elections,” she argued.
The move by the IEBC elicited mixed reactions with sceptics arguing that it risked taking Kenyans back to the era of ghost voters.
Some however felt that the decision would remove any misgivings that could have arisen as a result of the tendering dispute that threatened to discredit the electoral process.
“This was a very important process and I still feel that the IEBC enjoys a lot of credibility since the time it organised the referendum. The system it plans to use is the same one that was used during the referendum,” she observed.
Hellwig further challenged the electoral body to facilitate a speedy and transparent process and steer clear of any controversies.
She added that the country should conduct a peaceful election in order to woo potential investors and create employment opportunities.
“However there is still much that needs to be done like getting rid of the red tape and fighting corruption because German companies would, for instance, not get into this ‘kitu kidogo’ business. They want to get clear guidelines,” she noted.
The German ambassador, who was speaking during a book launch in Nairobi, also asked foreign businesses to invest in Kenya and Africa saying there was a lot of untapped potential.
“The relationship between Africa and Europe is no longer exclusive. China and even India have come in, competing for Africa as a market so if Europeans don’t look at Africans as equal business partners, they will lose out,” she argued.
The book, titled End of Arrogance; Africa and West- Understanding their Differences, seeks to get an understanding of the relationship between Africa and western countries.
The book which has been described as a session in tough love, risky and a philosophical essay also looks at the history of the relationship between the two regions as well as their different cultures.
It has however been criticised for generalising some aspects in the regions as well as placing some of its arguments in the wrong context.