The European Union has deployed 48 long term observers in 39 counties, in preparation for the August General Election, following an invitation by Kenya’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
The observers, who arrived in the country three weeks ago and who have been deployed in teams of two, are part of the European Union Election Observation Mission (EU EOM), and are expected to support Kenya’s democratic institutions.
Among them is an election technology analyst who will assess the use of technologies in different phases of the election process. There is also as a social media analyst, leading a team of six social media observers to monitor the use of social media, digital communication and traditional media, including local language radio stations.
During the launch of the mission on Saturday July 16, Josep Borrell, High Representative of the Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy and Vice-President of the European Commission (HR/VP) welcomed the invitation, saying that the EU and Kenya share an important and strong relationship.
“The forthcoming general elections in Kenya will be crucial for citizens to determine what future lies ahead; for electoral stakeholders to showcase their commitment to democracy, with fair competition among candidates in peaceful elections; and for the region at large to promote stability,” he said.
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EU EOM Chief Observer Ivan Štefanec, a Member of the European Parliament from Slovakia, said the mission is the fifth observation mission to Kenya since 2002.
“Our mission started with the arrival of a core team of 12 election experts with competencies in various fields nearly three weeks ago, and this week we deployed 48 long-term observers in teams of two to cover 39 counties across Kenya. This reflects the EU's established election observation methodology, which is based on a long-term approach and focuses on the entire electoral process,” said Štefanec.
He explained that the country should expect a delegation of members of the EU parliament, as a well as 48 short term observers and other representatives from the EU, who will arrive in the country in the final days leading to the elections.
“In total, around 180 observers from EU Member States, Norway, Switzerland and Canada, will observe the voting, counting, and tabulation process on 9 August. The EU EOM will issue a preliminary statement shortly after the election day and will remain in Kenya until the completion of the electoral process, including in case of a second round of presidential elections, and any complaints and appeals processes,” he added.
Štefanec explained that the observers operate separately from the EU Delegation in Kenya, and presents its findings independent from EU Member States and all EU institutions. The observers are also expected to abide by a code of conduct that requires strict neutrality and non-interference.
Post-election, the mission is expected to produce a report detailing information about the election campaigns, election malpractices, incidences of violence and intimidation, election preparation and media. the report will also include information on election results, transition, election complaints and petitions, handing over of power, and appointment of cabinet.