EU observer mission defends monitoring role in Kenya's presidential polls

Source: Xinhua| 2017-09-06 18:54:41|Editor: Yamei
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by Ronald Njoroge

NAIROBI, Sept. 6 (Xinhua) -- The European Union (EU) has defended its observation role in Kenya's Aug. 8 presidential polls whose results were annulled by the Supreme Court last week.

The EU Election Observation Mission to Kenya chief observer, Marietje Schaake, said in a commentary published by the Standard newspaper on Wednesday that their work was complicated by the use of technology by the electoral body.

"The Kenya elections relied heavily on a number of private companies and their systems. It was not possible for us to access the detailed workings of these systems," Schaake said.

"We did note with concern that proper capacity and security tests of the new technologies being used for the first time were not run. The full Supreme Court ruling may shed light on details on this aspect when it is published," she noted.

Schaake's remarks came after Kenyans have criticized the international observer missions for endorsing the electoral process as largely free, fair and transparent despite irregularities that marred the process.

The country's opposition led by Raila Odinga also castigated the observer missions over their endorsement of President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory, saying the court ruling had indicated that all other elective positions had been affected.

Odinga said the international community, in their approval of the polls despite protests from the Opposition, was against the spirit of the Constitution that the EU and the United States had championed in 2010.

"The role of international observers must now be relooked into. The United States, EU were on the forefront supporting the adoption of the new Constitution during President Mwai Kibaki's era but after the announcement of Kenyatta and William Ruto as winners of the polls, they resorted to the status quo," he said.

According to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission final results, Kenyatta garnered 54.3 percent of the votes cast while his main challenger, Odinga received 44.7 percent of the votes.

The Supreme Court on Friday nullified the results and ordered a repeat of the presidential elections due to the irregularities that occurred during the transmission of the votes.

Schaake added that the historic ruling by the Supreme Court of Kenya has led to criticism of observer missions such as the European mission.

"We did not approve the elections nor did we urge anyone to concede defeat," she said.

Schaake, who is also a Member of the European Parliament, said that as an independent and impartial observer mission, the observers frequently get criticisms from one side or another with the statements they make.

According to the EU, election observation work is not only politically sensitive, it is also methodologically technical.