Should the Observation Mandate of Election Observers be Widened?

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Kenya conducted her general election on the 8th of August 2017. This was the second genera election under the 2010 new Constitution. The country is still waiting for the final tally of the results by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, IEBC.

Kenya’s election has been said to be one of the most watched election by various observers around the world. In this election, observers have come from the East African Community, the African Union, the European Union and the Carter Foundation.

On Tuesday, the National Super Alliance (NASA) presidential candidate, Raila Odinga dismissed the results that are being streamed on the IEBC portal calling them a total failure and a fraud. Raila Odinga and the NASA fraternity say that the electronic system transmitting the results has been hacked. President Uhuru Kenyatta is in the lead with 8.1 million votes while Raila Odinga is second with 6.7 million votes according to the streamed results.

When Raila Odinga raised the concerns, it was expected that the election observers would intervene but it has now emerged that the observers do not have the mandate.

“We do not have the mandate to investigate the hacking. Our mandate is to observe the process and so far, the process has been good,” said Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union Observer Group.

“Our work is not to take sides. Our work is to listen to the parties and put the considerations in our observations,” Said John Kerry, the head of the Carter Center delegation in Kenya. “Both losers and victims of this election should work within the rule of law,” he added.

The mandate of observer groups is just to observe the electoral process. Should their mandate be widened to include powers to investigate?


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