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Kerry jets in as US dispatches largest team of poll observers

Former US Secretary of State John Kerry is expected in the country any day this week to monitor the elections as final preparations get into high gear.

Mr Kerry will be leading the US Observer Mission as well as being the co-leader of the Carter Centre, a non-profit organisation founded by former US President Jimmy Carter.

His arrival will most likely coincide with the delivery of the presidential ballot papers which are expected between tomorrow and Tuesday.

Nation has also learnt that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has accredited some 212 non-African observers who will observe the August 8 polls.

With 67 accredited observers, the US government has the highest number of those IEBC has granted clearance to monitor the elections.

The number is three times that of the European Union delegation which will deploy some 22 people to monitor the elections.

ELECTION OBSERVERS

Other non-African observers are Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Finland, Germany, Canada, Switzerland, Great Britain, Norway, Austria, The Kingdom of the Netherlands, Belgium, Sweden, France, Japan, US-based National Democratic Institute (NDI) and the Carter Centre.

READ: Politicians trade blame in meetings with observers

The African Union, the regional political and trading blocs as well as individual African countries and Kenyan-based groups are also expected to have teams on the ground to observe the elections. The AU team which has been in the country is led by former South African president Thabo Mbeki.

A combination of US government and US-based organisations’ teams shows that Washington will likely have the highest number of election monitors in the country at 96.

According to IEBC Handbook for Observers, election observers are accredited to “cover the entire process from the beginning to the end, including the pre-election period, the Election Day and the post-election period.”

CARTER

“It is encouraged that coverage of an observer mission should be as broad as possible, with sufficient observers stationed throughout the country,” IEBC states.

The checklist for observers include administration and functioning of the electoral process, legal and institutional framework for the electoral process and political context and climate in which the election is held.

Already, the EU and Carter observer teams have given their assessment of the period leading to the August 8 polls.

READ:US monitor lauds IEBC election plans

The EU, led by Chief Observer Marietje Schaake, have warned of a possibility of post-election violence.

“There are concerns about possible eruption of violence as Kenya head to the polls,” Ms Schaake said during the official launch of the EU election observer mission early this month.

VIOLENCE

She added that Kenyan institutions have a special role in this election to ensure acts of violence are dealt with.

On the other hand, the Carter Centre has given a largely positive assessment of IEBC and the legal preparedness.

Meanwhile, Kenya’s Elections Observation Group (Elog) says it is not fully satisfied with the state of preparedness by IEBC.

Elog national co-ordinator Mulle Musau told Nation that IEBC could have done better in terms of voter education.

“We should have expected a more robust voter education and public engagement. Indeed in these last days before the elections, the voter education should be narrowed down to voter information,” he said.

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