NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 4 – The Elections Observation Group (ELOG) has welcomed the annulment of the August presidential election outcome terming the move by the Supreme Court as ‘bold’.
The chairperson of the election monitoring group, Regina Opondo, said in a media briefing on Monday that the decision will promote constitutionalism in the conduct of polls.
“Having consistently observed the electoral process closely for the last eight months and sharing our findings consistently, the ruling gives Kenyans and concerned institutions another opportunity to conduct elections that would be credible, free and fair, and in accordance with the law of the country,” she said.
Opondo however defended findings of ELOG’s Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) system which projected President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory saying its observer mission of about 1,700 monitors did not focus on results transmission; the process which the court held was inconsistent with the law.
The observer mission had in its PVT projections given Kenyatta a lower margin of 52.1 per cent and an upper margin of 56 per cent in the August 8 poll, official results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) placing Kenyatta’s victory at 54.2 per cent representing 8.2 million votes.
The PVT with a margin of error of 1.9 per cent also projected that National Super Alliance’s Raila Odinga would secure 44.9 per cent of the vote, the final IEBC tally indicating that he had secured 44.7 per cent of the votes cast.
“It’s important to understand that different observer groups have different methodologies some have limitations, some better than others and some look at certain aspects over others,” Opondo stated.
“What seems to have been common with all observer reports is that the Election Day went on well. Where the rain started to beat us is around results transmission and especially because of issues on the IEBC portal and accessing certain aspects of information,” she added.
On whether the electoral commission should conduct the fresh elections as ordered by the court, Josephine Mongare a Federation for Women Lawyers representative noted that the court was clear on the matter, adding that the commission is the only body mandated by the Constitution to conduct elections.
“We all saw the decision of the court and it directed IEBC to conduct the fresh election. We respect that decision because the court is a critical player in election processes,” she said.
A similar view was held by activist Javas Bigambo who said any attempt to have a body other than the IEBC conduct the polls as ordered by Chief Justice David Maraga and his bench would be a contravention of the supreme law.
Bigambo argued that the poll agency has an unlimited mandate both by the Supreme Court and the Constitution to conduct the fresh presidential election.
“We need to speak to the issue of the rule of law and that is what the court spoke to. IEBC is a Chapter 15 commission and we know very well that it is the only body mandated to conduct elections.”
For any other body to conduct the election, it would necessitate a review of the constitution and that it not possible given the strict timelines, Bigambo argued.
He however said it was possible to make minimal changes within provisions of the law to improve the effectiveness of the commission while keeping up with the strict timeline (60 days following nullification) within which the new election is to be held.
“What stakeholders and other political players need to do is to reflect on what kind of changes could minimally or possibly be carried out within the IEBC so that it does not interfere with its capacity to carry out the election within the period directed by the court,” Bigambo urged.
During the briefing, Bishop Alfred Rotich of the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops urged the political class to exercise sobriety in the ongoing debate on whether or not the electoral commission as currently constituted should oversee fresh presidential elections.
The Military Ordinance said there was need to put national interests first above all else.
“We want to ask them to exercise sobriety lest we lose the baby. Yes, there are areas of contention but those need to be reasoned out carefully,” the seasoned priest who also mediated the push for an overhaul of the Isaac Hassan-led electoral commission pointed out.
Bishop Rotich also said the effectiveness of the poll agency must be secured and enhanced in order to deliver the new presidential election ordered by the Supreme Court when it nullified the August 8 presidential contest, Friday last week.
“Let the 60 days given to us by the Supreme Court be an opportunity to sharpen our effectiveness so that we secure the country and not individual interests so that the people are able to exercise their will within the stipulated days,” said Bishop Rotich.