The International Crisis Group (ICG), a conflict prevention organisation, has urged Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta’s ruling Jubilee Party, and National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga, to embed representatives in the electoral commission.
ICG in a new report made the recommendation as a way to ensure that Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was monitored at every stage as the East African country prepares for fresh elections on October 26 after the August presidential elections were annulled by the country’s supreme court.
The report ‘How to Ensure a Credible, Peaceful Vote in Kenya’ further warned that the standoff between the two parties could trigger a crisis if the elections do not go ahead as planned.
Talks between Jubilee and Nasa have stalled over Odinga threatening to boycott the elections if reforms of the IEBC are not made according to his specifications, while the ruling party has said it is satisfied with steps the electoral commission has made so far.
The opposition leader has also been urging mass protests across the East African country, which have led to clashes between security forces and protesters, and triggered fears of even bloodier confrontations such as those that left many dead in August and even more in the 2007 elections.
“One way forward might be for both camps to embed an agreed number of party representatives in the IEBC to observe every stage of preparations,” Crisis Group’s report says.
“This would include, in particular, active monitoring of tallying and results transmission.”
A similar arrangement was made in 1997 when the opposition had threatened to boycott elections unless minimum reforms were affected.
Addressing the entrenched positions on both sides the ICG urged Jubilee to drop its proposed changes to electoral laws, saying these should only be implemented after building cross-party consensus, preferably after the election.
It also asked Nasa not to insist on extensive changes that might leave the electoral commission hamstrung and unable to run the election on time.