Poll observers now praise Kenya Supreme Court ruling

Saturday September 09 2017

Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry (centre) talks with former South Africa president and African Union observer Thabo Mbeki (left) and an independent observer at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi. Nullification of the August 8 presidential results has brought into focus observer missions. PHOTO | TONY KARUMBA | NATION MEDIA GROUP


International observers of Kenya’s 2017 General Election have now praised the ruling of the Supreme Court that nullified the presidential vote, after initially endorsing the process as free and fair.

This turn of events has raised questions as to why the observers rushed to endorse the elections even before the final results were announced on August 11.

For instance, the Carter Center — which was highly criticised by Kenya’s opposition for rushing to endorse the elections as free and fair — commended the Kenyan Supreme Court for conducting an open and transparent judicial process. 

All international election observer groups gave the elections a clean bill of health only for the Supreme Court to nullify the presidential results on the basis of irregularities and illegalities.  

The questions now arising, especially regarding elections in Africa, are whether observers come into the country in good time to observe the entire process from the voter registration to the casting of ballots.

The European Union Election Observer Mission, the Carter Center, the Commonwealth, the African Union, the East African Community and the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development Observer Mission, all declared the election free and fair in their preliminary reports despite complaints from the opposition.


READ: Raila: I am disappointed with Kerry, poll observers

Bobby Opollo, a Nairobi-based lawyer told The EastAfrican that serious election observer organisations must have long-term and short-term observers to look at the whole process such as voter registration, tenders, use of government machinery, violence and bribery that happens before the elections.

“Unfortunately, we have groups travelling to Africa two days to the elections and giving us the common mantra that there were a few irregularities but the elections were by and large free and fair,” said Mr Opollo.

He noted that observers should move away from traditional benchmarks such as ballot stuffing due to introduction of technology in results transmission.