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ELECTION NOT TRANSPARENT - EU OBSERVERS

Wednesday, March 20, 2013 - 00:00 -- BY STAR REPORTER

"The processing of official results was wholly lacking in transparency," according to an internal report of the European Union election observers. The report was written the week after the March 4 presidential election and was severely critical of the election administration.

Western and American governments have so far not commented on the election result and have confined themselves to congratulating the Kenyan people for their peaceful attitude to the elections.

"The European Union Election Observation Mission is closely following the petitions filed after the 4 March General Elections. Impartial and expeditious handling of petitions, in a peaceful atmosphere, is an important part of every democratic electoral process. To observe this important phase, EU election observers will stay in Kenya until the Supreme Court delivers its rulings," said an EU press release yesterday.

The press release said that Chief Observer Alojz Peterle will publicly present the observer mission’s final assessment on the overall credibility of the elections after the tallying and the petitions are over.

However the internal report indicates that grave reservations have now superseded the EU's initially positive public comments. The EU observers highlighted the failure of electronic voter identification "resulting in an inconsistent method of verifying voters' identity."

They referred to the breakdown of the electronic transmission system and the multiplying by a factor of eight of rejected ballots. "Naturally this did nothing to enhance confidence in an already discredited results transmission system," wrote the observers.

"Although there have been allegations of hacking and other sabotage, it is equally realistic that these systems could not be implemented because of the limited timeframe in which hardware was received, configured and deployed, alongside incomplete training for polling staff," says the report. The observers said "as was the case in 2007, there were numerous problems with the tallying of election results."

"Neither election observers nor party agents had adequate access to the processes in the constituency, county and national tallying centres. Small but numerous mathematical inconsistencies could have had significant impact, given the small number of votes by which Kenyatta passed the 50 percent threshold. So far presidential results have only been disaggregated down to the constituency level," said the observers.

"Processing of official election results, based on tallying the results on polling station forms,.... lacked transparency at every stage," said the observers.

They said party agents and observers were not allowed to see how tallying was carried out, including in the National Tallying Centre at Bomas of Kenya.

"Party agents were able to attend the tallying of 16 constituency results forms before being expelled from the NTC for disrupting the process."

"EU EOM observers reported that tallied results at lower levels were often not signed by party agents, and in some instances observers noted mathematical inconsistencies," said the report.

The observers pointed out that the Interim Election and Boundaries Commission progressively announced the numbers of valid votes, rejected votes, and all votes cast.

"Throughout the four days in which these figures were announced, these figures did not add up," the report said. "The processing of official results was mired in obscurity, controversy and relatively small but numerous mathematical inconsistencies."

The observers criticised the media for not broadcasting live press conferences saying this "restricted the access of the public to real and timely information about political developments."

The observers commended the IEBC for having gender balance among its staff but observed that much less than the stipulated one-third of women were elected to office.

"The performance of the police has been evaluated in general as good," said the EU observers and said "there were no major incidences of human rights violations during the election period."

The observers noted that various complaints had been made to the IEBC including returning officers leaving the tallying centre with materials including computers (Nairobi, Nakuru); manipulation of results (Kakamega, Nyeri, Nakuru); ballot stuffing by a presiding officer (Kakamega); issuing more than one ballot paper per voter (Eldoret); bribing of voters (Nakuru, Kisumu); not sealing the ballot boxes (Embu); and damaging a TNA billboard (Nyeri).