NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 1- Twenty two thousand six hundred observers have been accredited by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to monitor Monday’s General Election.
IEBC Chairman Issack Hassan told journalists on Friday that 20,000 observers were local while 2,600 were from the international community, drawn from the European Union, the African Union, the East African Community, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and COMESA.
He said former African Heads of State and electoral commission heads from Africa were among those accredited.
Five thousand media personnel have also been given the green light to cover the historic election.
“We actually have about five chairpersons of electoral commissions in Africa and about four former Heads of State who will be heading international observer missions,” he explained.
Hassan however noted that observers would not be allowed to make or pick any phone calls inside the polling stations.
“Polling officials must allow the observers to use their mobile phones to send text messages from the polling station but not to talk on them. If someone wants to talk on a mobile phone and is an accredited observer he must step out of the polling station,” he warned.
He further assured Kenyans of sufficient preparations for the historic poll noting that the commission had delivered all the ballot papers to the polling stations.
Hassan also lauded the efforts undertaken by various civil societies and media stations to conduct voter education noting that 92 radio stations and seven television stations had participated in the exercise.
“Elections should be competitive but not combative; we should enjoy and not agonise over them. There can be a victory without victims; you can be tall without standing on the shoulders of anybody,” he argued.
He further explained that the commission had to lay off some polling officials due to unforeseen financial constraints.
“I call upon those Kenyans who were laid off to be patient and take part in the elections as Kenyans. I also want to ask all Kenyans to support polling officials to conduct peaceful elections,” he said.
Hassan also appealed to businessmen who were planning to lease cars to the commission for purposes of the elections to keep their word.
He further asked the government to provide logistical support to the commission, especially in emergency situations.
“Those who were to provide vehicles please don’t think the commission is a cash cow. We are pleading with you to be reasonable with your demands,” he urged.
Acting Police Spokesman Charles Owino has already indicated that the police will offer their help where needed including airlifting returning officers from far flung areas.