A Europe Union (EU) mission to observe the March 4 General Election is in Kenya on the invitation of the electoral commission.
The EU Election Observation Mission led by Alojz Peterle consists of about 70 observers who will be deployed to various locations to assess the voting process and the extent to which the elections comply with international and regional standards.
Since its arrival, the team has met with officials from the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC), the Inspector General of the Police, the Registrar of Political Parties, political party leaders, the Elections Observation Group, heads of diplomatic missions among other stakeholders.
“The observers will analyse the campaign environment, election preparation, the role of civil society and the media and the handling of any election complaints such as handling, counting and tabulation of results,” Mr Peterle said while addressing a press briefing in Nairobi Thursday.
Mr Peterle, a member of the European Parliament from Slovenia where he has served as Prime Minister, said the team will have special focus on the media.
“The EU mission will assess the conduct of the media by monitoring key television and radio stations as well as newspapers looking specifically at the access granted to political contestants and whether their coverage is fair and balanced,” he said.
The EOM’s core team of 10 election experts arrived in the country on January 19.
Another 18-member team, who will serve on along term basis, is expected to beef up the team next Wednesday.
The core team whose mandate will be to analyse the political, electoral and legal issues, is being supported by logistical and security specialists.
According to Mr Peterle, this is a smaller team compared that which was posted to evaluate the 2007 General Election.
“The EU attaches great significance to the elections as they are taking place in a challenging and sensitive environment and we hope that the presence of independent observers is a positive contribution to the democratic process,” Mr Peterle said.
After the elections, the team will release what the Chief Observer described as a preliminary statement of the elections and a comprehensive report including recommendations will be issued at a later date.
“We are really pleased that many of our recommendations issued after 2007 were considered and accepted,” he said while citing the adoption of a new Constitution.
Mr Peterle said the observers followed the nominations but could not comment as it was “too soon” since the team has been keeping an eye on the entire election process.
While giving the IEBC a vote of confidence, the EUM chairperson asked it to take the time leading to the elections to carry out more civic education.
“They are facing a very huge task ahead of them as this will be the first time voters will have to select six leaders and we do not have a reason to doubt whether they can handle it,” Mr Peterle said.