The Head of the Joint AU-COMESA Elections Observer Mission to the Kenya 2022 General Elections, HE Ernest Bai Koroma, has kicked started the election observation exercise. The launch took place Thursday at the Kilmanjaro 2 Hall at the Upper Hill Radisson Blu Hotel in Nairobi.
Speaking to the observers, former President Koroma said that no two countries were the same, and that political and electoral contexts differ. He however maintained that the mandate of this joint African Union and the Common Market of East African States Authority (COMESA) Election Observer Mission, as all other missions, remains the same: “to make an independent, objective, and impartial assessment of the electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the international standards and principles governing the organisations have committed to.”
He therefore drew the attention of the observers to the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG), the 2012 OAU/AU Declaration of Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, and the Guidelines on the Conduct of COMESA Election Observer Missions. President Koroma also entreated the observers to measure these elections against the Constitution and Electoral Laws of Kenya.
Recent elections in Kenya have been marred by challenges, controversies and contested outcomes and there are credible reports that the 9 August general elections may not be different. Citizens, voters, and candidates are paying close attention to the process, the outcome and indeed to the assessments of International Election Observers. Analysts believe that violence could erupt if tensions and anxieties are not properly managed.
But former President Koroma is optimistic that the joint participation of the AU and COMESA could contribute significantly to a peaceful and credible outcome.
“Working closely with other international observers, the Joint AU/ COMESA Mission will make valuable contributions in strengthening the democratisation of Kenya and in promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Kenya.”
About the three-day briefing programme ahead of deployment, the Head of Mission expressed optimism that the interaction will enrich the observers understanding of the context of the elections, as well as the level of preparedness of the Kenyan electoral stakeholders regarding the conduct of the 9 August 2022 general elections. He also reminded the Short-Term Observers that their task was demanding and implored them to adhere to the mission’s objectives.
“I kindly request that throughout the mission you apply strict neutrality and objectivity, as well as adhere to the African Union and COMESA Codes of Conduct for Election Observers, particularly respect for national laws, customs and traditions of Kenyans.”
Over the past few years, the observation methodologies used by both the African Union and COMESA have improved considerably. This has led to greater credibility to their work in election observation missions. The expectation therefore, is that part of these improvements will impact positively on the mission’s technical team in objectively capturing and analyzing the information observers send in from the field on election day. This is critical because such data will then form part of the overall assessment of the 9 August elections.
As he officially launches the Joint AU-COMESA Election Observer Mission to the Kenya 9 August 2022 General Elections, and as they prepare for deployment Saturday, the Head of Mission wished the observers well.