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XINHUA NEWS SERVICE REPORTS FROM THE AFRICAN CONTINENT

 

 

EU urges Kenya to undertake electoral
reforms to ease political tensions

NAIROBI, (Xinhua) -- Kenya should embark on reforming the electoral system to make it more transparent and inclusive in order to reduce political tensions that escalated during the country’s last electoral cycle, said the European Union election observer mission (EU EOM) in its final report on Kenya’s 2017 elections released on Wednesday.

The report noted that Kenya’s ability to heal from political and economic crisis that intensified during last year’s prolonged election season hinges on sweeping reforms to ensure future polls are free, fair and transparent.

Marietje Schaake, the Chief Observer and Member of European Parliament from the Netherlands, said that Kenya has an opportunity to reform its electoral processes as a means to guard against political and economic upheavals in the future.

“We hope the recommendations in our final report will contribute to more resilient democracy from which all Kenyans benefit. This takes time to build, which is why it is important that steps are taken promptly to improve the legal framework, institutions and practices,” Schaake said.

The EU was among foreign observer missions that deployed personnel to monitor August 8 and October 26, 2017 repeat presidential polls in Kenya.

In its final report on both polls, the EU made 29 recommendations that Kenya should adopt in order to improve electoral management and avert a political crisis that accompanies disputed poll results.

“Electoral reform needs to be carried out well in advance of any election, and to be based on broad consensus,” said the EU final report on Kenyan elections.

“Actions should be taken to strengthen the resilience of constitutionally independent institutions involved in elections, to preserve checks and balances in the electoral process,” it added.

The EU urged Kenyan parliament to initiate inter-party consultations on electoral reforms and proposed merit-based appointment of election officials to ensure future polls are above board.

Likewise, the EU Election Observer Mission recommended financial autonomy and infrastructure modernization of the electoral body to enhance its capacity to facilitate credible polls.

Kenya’s Aug. 8 presidential elections where the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner were later nullified by the country’s apex court in September last year over gross violation of electoral laws.

The Supreme Court ordered a repeat of presidential polls within 60 days and Kenyatta emerged the winner after his main rival in the opposition pulled out citing an unfair playing ground.

Foreign observer missions including the EU agreed that the repeat presidential polls were conducted in a more transparent manner despite heightened political polarization and violent protests in opposition strongholds.

             

 

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