EU picks chief observer for upcoming Kenya polls

The European Union has appointed Dutch politician Marietje Schaake to head its team of election observers for the Kenyan polls.

European Union High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Federica Mogherini announced on Thursday Ms Schaake will head a team of ten analysts due to arrive in the country on June 12.

The EU High Representative said the decision to send observers to the polls was “in response to an invitation by Kenyan authorities,” according to a statement sent to newsrooms on Friday.

“This year’s General Election are foreseen to be very competitive and we are committed to give an important contribution to the electoral process through the electoral observation mission led by Chief Observer Schaake,” she said.

CREDIBLE POLLS

“We expect the rule of law will prevail with all parties resolving any possible election disputes through dialogue and available legal remedies”.

Ms Schaake, 38, is a Member of European Parliament for the Netherlands. Her mission to Kenya will mark the fourth time the European body has sent observers to Kenya elections.

According to the EU, this signifies its continuous work for “credible, transparent and inclusive elections in the country, since our political dialogue and cooperation strategy focusses on supporting good governance.”

The European body had in April sent observers to watch party primaries. By Monday next week, the EU said it an initial ‘Core Team’ of ten analysts will land in Nairobi and will stay until after elections

By end of June, these ten would have been joined by another group of 30 observers before another 32 arrive in august to check electoral conduct across the country on Election Day.

“A delegation of the European Parliament and Kenya-based diplomats from EU Member States will also reinforce the mission on election day.

“The EU EOM (Electoral Observer Mission) looks forward to cooperate with other international observation missions that have endorsed the Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation.”

STRONG ELECTION PROCESS

As is tradition, the EU send observers at election time after which they compile a report on whether it was free and fair or whether there were irregularities. The EU body says this missions have helped Kenya to learn from mistakes and build on its political “dialogue.”

The EU is among the main donors to a project led by the UNDP for “strengthening electoral processes in Kenya.” It is worth $24 million (Sh27.7 billion) coming from the UK, US and the EU, the programme involves training and support for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and other government departments involved in securing elections, as well as supporting women to contest.

The EU has contributed €5 million (Sh 577.2 million) and the programme will last until end of 2018

Schaake, in accepting the appointment said: “I trust the Kenyan people will express their political choices in a peaceful and calm environment, thus confirming the significance of democratic institutions.

“The August polls can further consolidate the democratic record through well-run, transparent, inclusive and peaceful elections, with all sides refraining from any actions or statements that may incite violence.”

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