A Diplomatic row has erupted between Kenya and European Commission after Uhuru regime refused to allow the EU Election Observer group to present their report following the October 26th presidential elections.
”Uhuru did not want to give the group visibility for fear it will fuel opposition demands for a repeat election or swearing in of Raila Odinga. The report is critical of Uhuru regime and confirms massive irregularities, intimidation, police brutality against opposition leaders and supporters, use of state resources and technology to rig the election”.
European Union election monitors said Wednesday that Kenya’s presidential poll had “weakened” the country’s democracy in a critical report that triggered an angry government response.
President Uhuru Kenyatta won a second term in an October rerun after his initial victory was nullified by the Supreme Court.
The opposition boycotted the fresh poll amid sporadic violence and divisive rhetoric.
“Kenyans went from high hopes for these elections to many disappointments and confrontations. Kenya remains deeply divided,” EU chief observer Marietje Schaake, a Dutch member of the European parliament, told AFP.
The report was scathing in its criticism and, unusually, was launched in Brussels, rather than in the country where the election was held.
Schaake said Kenyan authorities were “not prepared” to receive her and her team for the launch (the authorities (Uhuru regime) refused to the observer mission to fly into Nairobi). The EU monitors came under fire from both sides during last year’s drawn-out and disputed poll.
The bad blood continued on Wednesday with Kenya’s ambassador to Belgium and the EU, Johnson Weru, accusing Schaake of issuing the report ahead of schedule and of “contemptuous political grandstanding”.
The report found “the electoral process was damaged by political leaders attacking independent institutions and by a lack of dialogue between the two sides, with escalating disputes and violence.”
Uhuru’s side threatened the judiciary after his August victory was overturned, while the opposition lead by Raila Odinga accused IEBC of being biased and aiding Jubilee to rig.
More than 125 people died in election-related violence, according to rights groups, most of them shot by police.
The report listed 29 recommendations — including legal and electoral reforms, strengthening of the election commission and improved technology — that could pave the way for better elections in 2022 when Kenyatta must stand down.
An electronic system for transmitting and tallying results was supposed to improve transparency after two previous disputed presidential elections, but instead the technology was used to fuel rigging.
“Technology cannot replace trust,” the EU warned.
The observers also noted widespread “misuse of state resources at national and local levels” that tilted the playing field in favour of Uhuru.
The EU nevertheless concluded that the 2017 elections “were characterised by a rigged election that was protracted and damaging presidential race that cost lives and weakened Kenya’s democratic functioning.”