EU Observers, Envoys Caution Against Election Laws Review

The European Union election observer mission along with envoys in Kenya have warned legislators against making changes to election laws.

EU observers in a statement on Tuesday said that none of the proposed amendments are critical for the country but rather risks undermining the repeat presidential elections.

Read Also: NASA, Jubilee And IEBC Talks Collapse Over Elections Act Amendment

The observer mission went on to poke holes at some of the changes contained in the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill and the Election Offences (Amendment) Bill, adding that proceeding to pass the proposals before the October polls would be a highly problematic process, with changes being extremely controversial.

“Some proposals in the bill warrant additional elaboration and clarification. For example, the electronic and manual transmission of tabulated results provides an additional safeguard but goes against the recommendations of the Kriegler report in stating that manual results automatically prevail (thereby risking potential manipulations not being considered),” said EU Observer mission head Marietje Schaake.

The provision to give prominence to the manual transmission of results, according to the mission, “undermines crucial transparency measures” as well as the reduction of powers of the Commission’s chairperson.

“Changes to the composition of the IEBC and the powers of the chairperson are not appropriate mid-way through an electoral operation.”

“The phrase ‘absence of the chairperson for any reason’ is insufficiently defined, and is, therefore, open to arbitrary interpretation. The reduced requirements for a quorum risk inconsistent decision-making.”

The mission also warned that the demands by both Jubilee and Nasa for far-reaching changes to the election administration need to be matched with the constitutional requirements for the re-run.

Ms. Schaake warned that excessive demands, which cannot be met by the IEBC, place an extraordinary burden on the institution and escalate tension and antagonism in the election.

“The EU EOM suggests that contenders focus as a matter of urgency on practical and meaningful integrity measures that can be realistically undertaken to strengthen operations and systems.”

Read Also: Uhuru Defends Elections Act Amendment, Blasts Opposition

The EU mission’s caution warning was echoed by Ambassadors and high commissioners from 14 countries who also criticized the amendments, calling it ill-timed.

The diplomats said the changes will affect IEBC’s preparedness for the elections which is about three weeks away.

They have gone ahead to threaten sanctions, including travel bans, on political leaders taking hardline positions that may affect the elections.