Monday, 25 February 2013

AU lauds IEBC for elections preparedness

By BENJAMIN MUINDI  ( email the author )

Posted  Monday, February 25  2013 at  17:25

The African Union (AU) on Monday said it was satisfied with the preparedness of the electoral agency to conduct next week’s General Election.AU’s elections observation mission to Kenya headed by former Mozambique President Joaquim Chissano expressed confidence that the March 4 elections will be open, free and fair.Mr Chissano said the team was impressed by the readiness of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) especially the rolling out of new technology in conducting the elections.“We are impressed by thorough preparations by IEBC and how the agency has conducted itself professionally. We have confidence that the elections will be conducted very well,” Mr Chissano said. 

Mr Chissano spoke to journalists after his elections observation group met commissioners of the IEBC at their offices in Anniversary Towers, Nairobi who gave them a detailed brief.He asked political parties and their supporters to moderate their campaigns and avoid inciting the people.“Let all think about the future of Kenya. It is not just the future of Kenya but also that of Africa, to shed the bad image that African elections have been associated with,” he said while praising the unity that the presidential candidates showed on Sunday during a prayers meeting in Nairobi.“I have never before happier to come to Kenya and witness such an event given the dramatic turn of events witnessed in 2007. It was joyful to note the unity of the presidential aspirants,” he said.Mr Chissano’s team will monitor the elections and will release a final report after the announcement of the results next week.
Speaking during the same forum, IEBC chairman Issack Hassan allayed fears that the elections will extend to a second day.Mr Hassan noted the IEBC had increased the polling booths in areas where the number of voters had exceeded 500 per station, adding that such areas were few and far in between.“Most of the polling stations have less than 500 voters meaning that even if the voters were to take ten minutes casting their votes, by five o’clock all will have voted,” he said.He also said claims of rigging were unfounded because biometric voter identification technology to be used during the elections will be used to reconcile results and the votes cast in each of the station.However, the official cautioned against reports that some political parties were buying Identity Cards (ID) from voters in some areas.“Such cases must be reported to the commission immediately,” Mr Hassan said.On Sunday, the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) secretariat accused their opponents of buying identity cards from voters in Kitui, Kakamega, Nyamira, Mombasa and Nairobi to weaken the support of the coalition during the elections.
“We are asking voters not to be persuaded to sell their identity cards. It is the right of every Kenyan to vote during the General Election,” Cord’s campaign secretariat chairman Franklin Bett said.Mr Bett however did not specify which political parties were purchasing the identity cards from voters in those areas.“How can one trust these politicians to run the country when they are buying IDs from Kenyans denying them their right to make a choice of the kind of leadership that they want?” he said.Mr Bett was speaking at the launch of a campaign meant to increase awareness among Kenyans on the need to vote during the March 4 elections.He said there were reports of leaflets being circulated in some parts of the country asking people from certain communities to “go where they belong.”
“These warnings are not only primitive but an infringement to the Constitution and the right to live and work anywhere in this country,” Mr Bett said.He called upon the police to ensure that all Kenyans were assured of security now and after the General Election.

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