There is a lot that Kenyan voters could be told that they have not been told about how their votes were represented to them by the IEBC over the last several days since they voted and all the ballots were counted Tursday evening. As assurances given to the voters in 2007 and again in 2013 in the immediate aftermath of voting those years did not in some substantial respects turn out to be factually sustainable, it is no suprise many Kenyans would want to verify rather than just trust now.
One would expect everyone involved this year to anticipate questions. There were lots of prominently published warnings of the need for transparency (from the International Crisis Group among others).
Mr. Kerry was Secretary of State in 2013 and presumably has current clearances that would allow him as an individual, now post-government service, to make doublely sure he is fully briefed about the failed Results Transmission System of 2013, as well as other past problems, if he wasn’t before coming to Nairobi last weekend for the Carter Center. Presumably he could also ask the current US and Kenyan governments to go through the details relating to procurement and use of KIEMS this year. Then he could answer questions and demonstrate the kind of transparency that would build trust.
Alternatively Mr. Chebukati and the current U.S. government could answer questions irrespective of the Carter Center or other independent Election Obsevation Missions.
Needless to say, politics and these elections have not historically been involved in bringing Kenyans “together”. Quite the opposite in fact.
“Shocking” news again from Kenya: the more things don’t change the more they stay the same. This election time is quite different than 2007 or 2013 in many ways and not in others.
In regard to post election mechanics (analog and digital), these change a lot each election. Not as much as the law requires perhaps, but significantly.The process of voting by paper ballot, counting the paper ballots by hand and recording the vote by hand on paper on Form 34A and posting it on the door (or in some cases deciding not to) is fixed and well established, 2007, 2013, 2017. Kenyans have and do “come together” over this process. They always do it peacefully.
Not sure why people are seeming to find that to be a novelty. A great and important thing yes–and it should not be taken for granted. Nor should it be misrepresented as “progress” or any form of “change” each time it is repeated.
So no, this peaceful turnout in long lines to vote by this same process in 2007, 2013 and again in 2017 is not, in fact, an act of faith at all as described by ICG. It is an act of hope each time. Arguably for many an act of love for country or subgroup. Kenyans are broadly faithful, but not in the election process as a whole.
My update is to just say Kenyan IEBC is not done with their job, but I’m done saying anything at all about this election process so far. Since I’m not involved it doesn’t help to offer public commentary.
If you missed it, amid all the international media scene setters, and very last minute diplomatic appeals, take 9 minutes for “The Fire Next Time: Why memories of the 2007-08 post election violence remain alive.” from Daniel Branch in The Elephant.
Much wisdom on why Kenya has remained stuck following “the debacle of 2007”.
Today [Sunday 6 Aug.] the IEBC announced for the first time that over 25% of its more than 40,000 polling stations do not have network coverage. Satellite phones have only been provided, apparently, to the 290 constituency tally centres.
So with a very messy voter register again–see AfriCOG report here–the election is entirely dependent on the KIEMS system. The procurement of the system remains deliberately shrouded, the techical director murdered–with offers of assistance from the FBI and Scotland Yard spurned. And now the connectivity bombshell.
Along with the deployment by the Kenyatta administration of twice the security personnell as Kibaki deployed in 2013 in the wake of 2007.
So no need to pretend that this is a normal election in which voters could have standard expectations. Still, the contrast between the coalitions and the generational consequences at issue might have been best captured by a debate between Kalonzo and Ruto.
Update Monday 7 Aug: seemingly keen to signal that there has been no end to the use of the assets of the Government of Kenya for the Uhuruto re-election campaign, the official website of the Office of the Presidency today features this piece dated Saturday to correspond with the end of the campaign: “President Kenyatta: I served Kenya diligently–vote for me again“. Last year Kenyatta and Ruto launched the Jubilee Party as their re-election vehicle at State House in a telling contrast from Kibaki’s 2007 launch of his PNU re-election vehicle at his private Silver Spring Hotel in Nairobi.
The unwillingness or inability of Kenya’s other institutions, including the media, to stand up to the “re-KANUization” of the State by the Executive’s Party is one of the most troubling indicators of the deteriorization of democratic health from the seeming breakthough of the 2003-05 with the NARC coalition defeat of KANU.
Update: here is a VOA overview.
Kenya’s IEBC Chairman announced over the weekend that one member of the IEBC technical staff had “gone missing”. Reports indicated last contacts of 10pm Friday or 3:00am Saturday. Today we learn that his dismembered body is in the morgue–I have not seen information yet on when he was murdered, when or by whom he was brought to morgue, etc. (So far these details appear standard for a Nairobi politically related murder. Normally the cases are unsolved and are subject to features years down the road in the major Kenyan dailies with important details after key suspects have died.)
The extrodinarily last minute testing of the KIEMS (“Kenya Integrated Election Management System”) — crucial for a credible election because we know that the register has lots of dead voters and other problems –set for 3pm today has been cancelled/postponed due to the fact that the murdered staffer was leading this part of the election.
Meanwhile, the IEBC has announced that more than 20 million paper ballots from its highly controversial sole source contract are arriving. This allows enough for each of the perhaps 5% dead voters on the register to vote, plus more than an additional 1 million extra ballots.
Leaked documents publicized by the opposition confirm what seems to be otherwise clear from other official sources — that the KDF is being deployed by the Goverment (the same Secretaries and Ministries involved in the re-election campaign of their Commander-in-Chief per their public communications) for purposes of election security along with the civilian paramilitaries of the Kenya Police Service that were exposed to have been implicated in partisan election activity and in the Post Election Violence in 2007-08.
Parliament has not approved the integration of the KDF into domestic election security.
We know from the Jubilee (ruling) Party vote to force the IEBC to accept a “manual backup” (substitute) in the event of a failure of the KIEMS that the government would have the votes to have authorized the KDF role had it elected to. And speaking of that insistence on manual back up . . .
Frankly this stinks.
(UPDATE: Additional details reported by the Standard midday indicate body of Chris Msando in forest by local citizens Sunday evening; they called police Kenya Police Service whose officers took the body to morgue. This is contradictory to some other reports, as usual in cases of murder involving high politics in Kenya. US and UK have offered assistance to investigate what is apparently a clear case of torture and murder.)
(2nd Update: Chris Msando has been variously referred to as “Manager” and as “Acting Director” for the IEBC ICT. The previous ICT director was fired some weeks ago under a cloud. So the person being called a “staff member” in early reports is as a practical matter the most important member of the Commission’s staff other than the chief, Chiloba, who is a holdover from the old Issak Hassan commission.)
(3rd Update: “Uproar over Moses Kuria’s post on slain IEBC officer” has more details and part of the state of play in the campaign pending further information.
The “simulation” of the KIEMS is re-scheduled now for Wednesday afternoon.)
Below I have embedded for downloading the 1 September 1978 CIA Africa Review which covers at pages 12-18 “The Economic Stake of the Kenyatta Family”. This is related to the story in The Standard noted in my post Standard covers newly declassified CIA report on Kenyatta family wealth acquisition during Jomo’s rule. I thought you should read it in full for yourself:
From a COMESA Press Release yesterday:
COMESA believes that elections play a pivotal role in societal transformation in the region and provide a footstall for entrenching democratic principles.
Premised on this critical role, Member States have continued holding periodic elections which have heralded a new dawn by signifying steady progress towards deepening and institutionalizing democracy in the 19-member bloc.
Nonetheless, COMESA is still dispatching teams of Election Observers to issue Preliminary Statements just after the upcoming elections in Rwanda on August 4 and Kenya on August 8, with further reports after 90 days.
Zimbabwean Ambassador Dr. Simbi Mubako will lead the team for Kenya to arrive 30 July.
Think I am too jaded? Enjoy this:
The presidential elections in Rwanda follows the 2015 referendum that unanimously approved a constitutional amendment that allowed President Kagame to run for office in 2017. The forthcoming elections are considered important in Rwanda’s socio-economic and political progress.
In the past years, Rwanda has made significant progress in consolidating its political stability, economic growth and development. Furthermore, Rwanda has recorded major milestones in consolidating democracy through holding periodic parliamentary and presidential elections as stipulated in its legal framework.
Since 2008, COMESA has continued to support the elections process in Rwanda. COMESA observed the parliamentary that were held in 2008, 2013 and the presidential elections held in 2010.
I am all for extra diplomats and elders from the region being in Kenya for the election to meet diplomatic needs that may arise. But let’s not confuse this type of “intramembership” diplomatic obsevation with an independent election observation.
[See U.S. and IGAD Statements on Djibouti election from last year, featuring Kenya’s Issack Hassan for IGAD]
In the 2013 Kenyan election John Kerry was the American Secretary of State, speaking to Kenya’s elections that year in his role as lead American diplomat. The U.S. provided key funding as well as embedded technical support for the IEBC in that election, including funding for the failed procurement of an electronic results transmission system.
It was suggested that the election, in spite of a certain disarray and incomplete results, reflected “the will” of Kenyan voters–and was subsequently upheld by Kenya’s Supreme Court (with preliminary observer statements from the Carter Center and EU as evidence offered by the IEBC in litigating against the challenges).
Likewise as Secretary of State Kerry addressed Kenya’s 2017 elections during his official visits in 2015 and 2016. The second quote above, “free and fair, peaceful and credible”, comes from Secretary Kerry in Kenya last year. The new terminology for the 2017 vote, “fair, orderly, credible and nonviolent”, comes now from former Secretary Kerry, wearing a new hat as co-leader of the independent International Election Observation Mission being conducted by the U.S. based NGO, The Carter Center. (See Daily Nation 14 July “Ex-Secretary of State insists on fair election“)
Over the years I have written and noted the potential distinctions involved in the decision of international observers to suggest that a particular election “reflected” or corresponded to a standard labeled “the will of the people” on one hand, and on the other to label an election “free and fair.”
An overview and “gateway” is my post “An insider’s explanation of the difference between a ‘free and fair’ election and a ‘will of the people’ election — Kriegler deputy’s memoir“. The issue is discussed in relation to the internationally supported South African election of 1994 discussed in the recent memoir referred, and on into 2007 and 2013 in Kenya, with Kreigler and IFES re-engaged in a different context.
See especially my post “Are free and fair elections passe in Kenya?“.
The most important point for Kenyans is that the 2010 Constitution adopts explicitly as law a “free and fair” standard. Peace, order and nonviolence are good and important societal goals. Many of us are skeptical that tolerating corruption or other substandard conduct in administration of elections is somehow a useful tool to serve peace, order or nonviolence (just as war, disorder and violence do not clean up the election process).