Nairobi, Kenya - The European Union (EU) Wednesday praised the conduct of the Kenyan General elections but said a full report on its credibility would depend on the successful tallying of the results.
The EU Chief Electoral Observer, Alojz Peterle, a former Slovenian Prime Minister, said the 4 March General Elections were the first real test of Kenya’s new Constitution, the new electoral framework and reformed judiciary.
'Although the process is not yet over, Kenya can be credited with demonstrating a strong commitment to democratic elections,' the EU said.
The election process has called for huge efforts on the part of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) as well as dedication on the part of Kenya’s electorate, the Observers noted.
While several serious violent incidents occurred in Mombasa, Kilifi and Garissa, EU observers found that the overall atmosphere during the elections was calm, and that the democratic spirit of Kenyans prevailed.
The elections were characterised by a huge society-wide push for peace, transparency and credibility.
“I was pleased to see that Kenyan voters’ determination to exercise their democratic rights was strong enough to defeat even the longest queues,” Peterle said while presenting the EU's preliminary findings in Nairobi.
“Kenyans stood up for peace and for their rights on Monday. Their commitment to exercising their rights sets a positive example not only to the region, but to the world.”
It was an ambitious undertaking to elect the president, the national assembly, the senate, governors and county assemblies in one day, he said.
The IEBC retained the electorate's trust but inconsistent decision making mechanisms drew it into a series of delays.
Despite this, the IEBC succeeded in overcoming the technical and operational difficulties on Election Day to ensure that the integrity of the vote was protected.
There were some elements of the electoral process which will require more attention from Kenyans in the future.
Despite an existing quota system, women’s participation as candidates was disappointingly low, while some Kenyan communities and marginalised groups remain disenfranchised as a result of not having national Identification cards.
More than 3 million eligible voters were not registered during the biometric voter registration process and were unable to vote in these elections, while some candidates who won their High Court bid to be on the ballot were still excluded.
With the voting process over and the counting and tallying continuing, the EU mission will observe the rest of the election process closely.
“The phases ahead for the IEBC and Kenya are as much defining parts of the process as Election Day,” Mr. Peterle said, adding “The overall credibility and transparency of the General Elections can be assessed after the tallying, the announcement of the results and any possible petitions are also dealt with.”