EU poll observers now call for probe, prosecution of IEBC chiefs

Thursday September 14 2017

Chief Observer of the EU Election Observers

Chief Observer of the EU Election Observers mission Marietje Schaake. The mission called for “thorough investigations of alleged electoral offences in order to promote prosecutions where warranted, including of IEBC staff.” PHOTO | EMMA NZIOKA | NATION 

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An observer mission has called for investigation and possible prosecution of Kenyan electoral agency IEBC officials for electoral malpractices that marred the August 8 General Election.

The European Union Observer Mission in its interim statement demands that top IEBC officials who committed election offences be held responsible for their actions.

In the statement dated September 14, the EU mission made a raft of recommendations to promote accountability and transparency in the repeat presidential election set for October 17.

The mission called for “thorough investigations of alleged electoral offences in order to promote prosecutions where warranted, including of IEBC staff.”

It noted that the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) had reported 95 pre-election criminal cases, mostly related to party primaries with 85 individuals charged in relation to election-day crimes, including 24 election officials.

“There have to date not been any investigations against senior public officers who have reportedly breached the law. Some stakeholders have questioned the ability of the ODPP to challenge more senior leaders,” read the statement by Marietje Schaake, Chief Observer of the European Union Election Observation Mission.

“Fast, comprehensive and effective investigations are needed so that there is individual accountability for actions taken,” it added.

The statement comes in the wake of mounting pressure from the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) calling for the prosecution of top IEBC officials they allege committed election offences during the August 8 election.

Pursue prosecution

Nasa has indicated that it will pursue the prosecution of at least six top IEBC for allegedly bungling the poll.

The head of Nasa legal team Paul Mwangi warned last week that the coalition’s lawyers were in the process of furnishing the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) with evidence of the top managers’ culpability in the election.

The top managers Nasa wants prosecuted include the IEBC chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba, Deputy CEO Betty Nyabuto-Sungura, Director of Elections Immaculate Kassait, ICT head James Muhati and head of legal Services Praxedes Tororey.

The mission, however, criticised both Nasa and ruling Jubilee for their constant attacks on independent institutions warning that it has undermined confidence in the electoral process.

“Since the election, Nasa and Jubilee have at times been undermining the IEBC and the judiciary respectively, singling out a statement by the former to the effect that IEBC had been taken over by criminals.

The mission also criticised President Kenyatta’s remark referring to Supreme Court judges as “crooks.”

Detailed procedures

In their recommendations, the EU mission also urged IEBC to develop and communicate more detailed procedures for the counting, tallying, transmission and transparency of results.

The observers called for tests of procedures and technology as well as improvements to the results transmission software and network coverage.

The electoral commission should also allow party agents and the media to comprehensively scrutinise constituency tallying centres, the observers say.

“The re-run offers a key opportunity for Kenya to create a more robust democracy and rule of law,” the observers said.

“But this process is not automatic, requires hard work, and the rebuilding of trust. The recommended reforms should help the IEBC and others to rebuild the confidence of Kenyans in their elections.”