The election observer missions monitoring the Kenyan election have said that candidates used state resources and criminal gangs to frustrate their rivals.
Dr. Ernest Bai Koroma, former President of Sierra Leone & head of Joint AU – COMESA election observation mission said the missions observed that there was misuse of state resources during the election. This later created an unlevelled playing field especially for small political players.
Dr Koroma said this at Serena Hotel, Nairobi on Thursday while releasing a preliminary report on the election.
“For example in Muranga and Nyeri counties, clashes were witnessed between UDA and Jubilee supporters during campaign rallies which resulted into violence, injury and destruction property,” Dr Koroma said.
Dr Koroma observed that the political use of criminal gangs to target political opponents by creating political zones of influence inhibited free campaigns especially for women candidates.
However, Koroma did not specify exactly what candidates used criminal gangs, or state resources, whether these were presidential candidates or candidates vying for seats gubernatorial levels. He also dod not specify what state resources were misused, when asked by our reporter to be specific.
The joint press conference was addressed by different election observer missions from the African Union and Common Market for East and Southern Market (COMESA), East African Community, and The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) in Eastern Africa.
Former President of Tanzania and Head of the election observer mission for the EAC, Jakaya Kikwete said that the mission he was leading is satisfied with how the electoral body IEBC conducted the election.
‘We are satisfied with the coming, people turned up. There were no problems in the lines, the disabled were assisted, there was no chaos,’ Kikwete observed.
When our reporter asked him whether he would term this as a free and fair election, Kikwete was unable to commit himself. He told our reporter that the election process is still ongoing and that it was important that the subsequent processes like tallying and declaration of results are properly managed.
Kikwete further added that the campaigns were conducted in a calm and peaceful atmosphere where political parties and candidates were allowed to stage rallies. He however noted that there were a few incidents that disrupted campaigns in some counties, but he insists that these don’t reflect the main picture of a whole campaign process because security immediately dealt with them.
Observer missions said that the lower voter turnout was a concern to them. Jakaya Kikwete said that the lower voter turnout can best be explained by Kenyans themselves, but it is a concern they’ll note in their final report. ‘Is it a concern? Yes it is. It maybe have been apathy, or maybe Kenyans have their own issues why they didn’t turn up in bog numbers to vote. At a certain polling station, a polling agent was concerned and told me that if we get above 50% we would be lucky,’ Kikwete said.
IEBC announced on Tuesday evening that 14 million Kenyans turned up to cast their ballot, excluding those that voted manual registers. This represents 65% voter turnout.
All election observer missions commended IEBC for integrating technology in the use of voter identification and transmission of results. They say that technology increased transparency in the election as well as efficiency.
They urged all Kenyans to remain peaceful, even after declaration of results is done.