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Raila's Salim Lone responds after EU's October 26 election report

Riziki Hamadi

Opposition leader Raila Odinga casts his vote on August 8. [Photo|Raila Odinga]

Salim Lone, NASA leader Raila Odinga's adviser has issued a statement few days after the EU Observer Mission released a report on the October 26 fresh presidential election.

Below is the statement released on Saturday:

"ASSESSING THE FINAL EU OBSERVER MISSION REPORT

"A very important compendium despite some flaws, including its astonishing assertion that the IEBC made significant technical improvements for the October election.”

The issue of the rigged 2017 election is not about to go away any time soon, despite determined attempts by President Uhuru Kenyatta and our major partners to put it behind us and move on. The issue again reared its pesky head this week with the publication of the EU observer mission’s final report.

Since the report was essentially a compendium of earlier EUOM reports, it might not have attracted a whole lot of attention but for the Jubilee government’s again displaying its inherent incompetence by demanding a delay in its publication. It also told team leader Marietje Schaake that it was not prepared to receive her for the report’s release in Kenya, as their agreement required, according to the Financial Times.

  

The final report highlighted electoral outrages that included the torture and killing of the Commission’s ICT chief just before the election; the flaws in the first election,; the last minute passage of controversial new electoral laws; the threats against the Supreme Court justices after they annulled the election and the shooting of the Deputy Chief Justice’s driver and bodyguard and the subsequent inability of the Court to meet for a pivotal case; and the use of disproportionate force in killing scores of non-violent protesters.

The report also criticized the government for intimidating civil society organizations, especially before each of the two deadlines for lodging presidential petitions and asking them to cease all election-related programmes. The report also had a set of crucial recommendations, few of which will be implemented by Jubilee, one can say without fear of contradiction.

The Report will no doubt be put to effective use by NASA, the National Resistance Movement and the People’s Assemblies.

The observer missions to our 2017 election were an altogether sorry lot. Nevertheless, the EU team stood out for its growing courage in highlighting some serious flaws after its faint-hearted initial assessment in August. That it was able to raise the issues it did at a moment when other major observers’ missions were in an unseemly haste to applaud the election makes the EU’s work even more notable.

A number of NASA supporters were nevertheless unhappy with the final report for understandable reasons. Chief among these was the EU’s astonishing assertion that the IEBC made significant technical improvements for the fresh October election, with full results data and forms made available promptly. Most independent observers had thought the second election, with all that preceded it and which the Report itself highlights, was much more flawed than the first.

This was the election which took place after Commission chairman Chebukati himself had said a week earlier could not be guaranteed to be free and fair, and Commissioner Roselyn Akombe fled the country in fear of her life and revealed from outside the country the deep ills that had destroyed the Electoral Commission’s impartiality and made it a Jubilee stronghold.

Despite the EUOM’s claims, Mr Chebukati in fact significantly delayed his planned announcements on the election’s progress. He also made himself a laughing stock by claiming a 48 percent turnout - and then scaling it back to 34 percent after media carried photographs of deserted polling stations across the country. He explained this indelible faux pas by claiming that the first figure was a “best estimate.” Electoral commissions are not in the business of giving estimates, at least not wild ones that are 50 percent higher than the purportedly accurate one.

There is also unhappiness over the report’s understated style, which did not explicitly take Uhuru Kenyatta and the IEBC to task for some of the most indictable actions that undermined the election and democracy generally. That NASA concern is more than negated by the fact that the meaning and intent of the report’s many vital assertions will not be lost on anyone.

If one keeps in mind the current international as well as Kenyan climate, and the multilateral demands that the EU is subject to, I am very happy to have seen this EUOM report published.

Salim Lone, Adviser,

NASA flagbearer Raila Odinga"

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