Kenya Election – France24 Debate with EU Chief Obsever and Nanjala Nyabola (and more)

A worthwhile 45 minute discussion on the status of the Kenyan election in the wake of the Supreme Court ruling including particularly the role of the election observers:

France 24 Debate – “Kenya Back to the Polls: Landmark Ruling, Renewed Uncertainty”

Guests:
Marietje SCHAAKE
Dutch MEP, Alliance of Liberals and Democrats

Patrick SMITH
Editor in Chief, The Africa Report

Nanjala NYABOLA
Writer and political analyst

Roland MARCHAL
Senior fellow at CNRS, Horn of Africa Specialist

And here from Quartz Africa: Kenya Elections 2017 – Role of International Election Observers under scrutiny after Kenya’s presidential election annulment.”

Maina Kiai in his Saturday Nation column submitted before the Supreme Court announced its ruling annulling the election had this to say:

INTERNATIONAL OBSERVERS

And it has been disappointing to see international observers — some domiciled in Kenya and some from outside — play that same game. Is this because they don’t think we deserve better?

Or is this guilt about the waste of millions of dollars spent on the IEBC? Or is it because the election result of August 10 is exactly what these observers wanted?

If it is the latter, why on earth do we ever have elections in the first place? International observers — aside from the EU Observation Mission (not the EU in Kenya) — set a new low for what it means to do elections observations.

“The War for History” part twelve: Why did Rannenberger and Lambsdorf react so differently to the election fraud they witnessed together?

Election Observation as “Diplomacy or Assistance” in practice

We learned four years after the 2007 Kenyan election from my 2009 Freedom of Information Act requests to the State Department that U.S. Ambassador Michael Ranneberger had witnessed in person the inflation of vote tallies at the Electoral Commission of Kenya leading to the announcement of Kibaki as the winner of the election by 230,000 votes on December 30, 2007. This is described in my post Part Ten—FOIA Documents from the Kenya 2007 election–Ranneberger at ECK: “[M]uch can happen between the casting of votes and the final tabulation of ballots, and it did”.

We also learned that Ranneberger was with the head of the EU Election Observation Mission, Alexander Graf Lambsdorf, at the ECK while witnessing what happened.

Ranneberger’s cable back to Washington explaining what he saw and his version of its significance is notably backward looking, as it is dated January 2, 2008, the Wednesday after Kibaki was sworn in at twilight Sunday.  He explains that most of his contemporaneous reporting to Washington had been oral due to the exigencies of events. By the time of this cable quite a number of people were dead and injured by the police in suppressing protest and by other violence such as the infamous church burning in the Rift Valley.

On January 1, 2008, the day before the cable, the EU Election Observation Mission released its Preliminary Statement on the election, with Lambsdorf presenting and answering questions from the press and public at the Intercontinental Hotel.  The EU Observers strongly criticized the fraud.  The EU at that time was pressing for remedial action on the election fraud while the US was pushing for a “power sharing” settlement after Ranneberger initially promoted acceptance of the results speaking to the media from Nairobi.  Back in Washington the State Department’s Africa Bureau had election day media guidance stressing that the opposition might claim fraud regardless if they lost and when the results were announced the State Department spokesman issued congratulations to Kibaki that evening which were “walked back” the next day.

On December 28, the day after the election, Ranneberger sent the last of the cables I have been provided before the January 2 cable explaining the fraudulent tallying, titled “Kenya’s Elections–A Positive Process Thus Far” as discussed in “Part Six–What did the U.S. Ambassador report to Washington the day after the Kenyan election?”. In this cable he reiterated his assertion that it was in the diplomatic interest of the United States for the election to be a “positive example” and a “watershed in the consolidation of Kenyan democracy”.

“Advancing U.S. Interests”

We will keep the Department closely informed as results become clearer. At this point, there are sound reasons to believe that this election process will be a very positive example for the continent and for the developing world, that it will represent a watershed in the consolidation of Kenyan democracy, and that it will, therefore, significantly advance U.S. interests. The Kenyan people will view the U.S. as having played an important and neutral role in encouraging a positive election process” [End]

In a December 24 cable titled “Kenya on the Eve of National Elections” Ranneberger had been explicit that it was in the U.S. diplomatic interest to be able to treat the announced outcome by the ECK as credible.

Thus we have a clear example of an election observer and a diplomat witnessing election fraud together and reacting in contradictory ways, and an explanation from the diplomat from the produced cables of his a priori position as to the interests of his client in how the election would come to be seen.

We don’t know from any of this what anyone in Washington thought about the interests of the United States as opposed to Ranneberger’s assertions to them.  Nor where Kivuitu’s expression of concern to Ranneberger prior to the election (which is not reflected in these cables) fits in; nor a possible election eve meeting among the Ambassador, Kibaki advisor Stanley Murage and Connie Newman, the designated lead delegate for the International  Republican Institute election observation mission (it was agreed in advance among the IRI staff that such a meeting “must not happen” but in spite of my precautions there were a couple of logistical windows of opportunity when such a meeting may have been possible; again nothing in the cables I have received to explain the purpose of a meeting or whether or not it actually took place).

What we do know is that an independent election observation mission is in a position to be objective about the facts of the conduct of an election in way that a diplomatic mission is unlikely to be. In terms of the “war for history”–whether Kibaki’s second term was in fact the result of a stolen election–the independent observers rather than the diplomats should be the point of reference for the facts.

“The long, long vote count” –new reporting from Kenya in Africa Confidential

Election Observers

The new “free article” from this month’s Africa Confidential says better what I have been getting at about the extraordinary delay in releasing the results from the Kenyan election, along with new independent reporting on the facts:

. . . In the longer term, such doubts could prompt a re-evaluation of foreign election monitoring missions in Africa. Some on the European Union mission, for example, had serious doubts about the integrity of the process, but it quickly endorsed Kenyatta’s election. By that stage, the EU had contributed more than 50 million euros (US$66 mn.) to the cost of the elections, reckoned to total over $400 mn. One diplomat in Nairobi joked that it was a case of ‘responsibility without power’, meaning that the EU would be blamed for a messy result due to its financial involvement but had no power to change anything.

The IEBC found that a million more votes were cast in the presidential election than in any other, Africa Confidential has learned, although all were held on the same day. Opposition and civil society activists have raised questions about such discrepancies for several months.

An unnamed electoral commissioner quoted in the Nairobi daily The Star appears to confirm their suspicions: ‘We are having sleepless nights reconciling the presidential results and those of the other positions. Over a million votes must be reconciled with the others and if the requirement is not changed, then it will cast the IEBC in a negative light.’

Kenyatta’s supporters reject the concerns, arguing that it is natural that voters were more worried about selecting the national president than candidates for other positions. Few neutrals see this as credible. In the past, dramatically higher turnouts in presidential elections than in others on the same day have been taken as a sign of ballot-box stuffing.

It seems far-fetched that over a million Kenyans would queue for several hours to vote and then ignore all of the ballots apart from the presidential one, especially since there was great excitement about the contests for new, powerful positions such as senator and governor. None of the many election observers we asked said they had seen significant numbers of voters putting a ballot paper in the presidential box but not the others.

. . . .

Please read the whole piece; this is important for the future of Kenya and for future elections everywhere.

 

It’s mid-May, do you know where your election results are?

The Kenyan election was held on March 4.  It is now May 16.  Here is the link to the website of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.  The IEBC announced its final presidential tally on March 9 and formalized its announcement of the identified winner on March 10.

Can you find on the IEBC website the election results for President, Governor and National Assembly?

Why not?

The United States spent many millions of dollars on these elections, including for observation efforts through the Carter Center and ELOG through NDI.  Likewise the European Union funded the EU Election Observation Mission.  The United States and other donors provided many millions for the activities of the IEBC itself through IFES.  And of course Kenya spent many of its own millions.

Yet, we have so much less information available from the IEBC now than we did from the disgraced and disbanded ECK in 2008.

So what is the IEBC waiting for?  And where are the observers?

Is there some reason that the IEBC fears publishing the results?  Could it be because the results show a huge and implausible “overvote” in the presidential race as compared to the number of votes cast in the other five elections at each polling station (and thus, ward, constituency and county)?  Did ELOG, the Carter Center or the EU EOM see large numbers of Kenyans cast ballots for president and spoil or discard their ballots in the other five races?

Six Races

Ballot Boxes in a line

Kenya’s National Council of Churches (NCCK) sticks up for EU envoys; TJRC slammed; and an optimistic view for March 4

The Star: “NCCK Warns Uhuru, Ruto over the Hague”:

“It will not be easy running a government while away as compared to from State House, but we ask Kenyans to exercise their discretion and vote as they want,” said NCCK Secretary General Rev Canon Peter Karanja yesterday after a two-day meeting at the Jumuia Conference and Retreat Centre in Limuru.

The High Court is due to rule tomorrow if Uhuru and Ruto are eligible to contest the presidency on grounds of integrity. “We ask for the law to be followed as we await the court ruling on Friday,” he said.

The press conference was attended by the NCCK chairperson Rev Canon Rosemary Mbogoh, deputy secretary Oliver Kisaka and Zion Harvest Mission Bishop Nicolas Oloo.

The council condemned the recent criticism of diplomats who stated last week that there will be “consequences” if Kenyans elect Uhuru and Ruto as president and deputy president.

“NCCK appreciates the interests of the foreign missions, European Union and African Union, because they helped us when the country went haywire and it is not fair to ridicule them,” he said.

The NCCK statement warned against tribal balkanization, called for more voter education by the IEBC, urged politicians to focus on issues, and asked President Kibaki to gazette the new National Land Commission.

CapitalFM: “KNHCR slams Truth Commission as Sham”.  The official Kenya National Human Rights Commission denounced the failure of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission established as part of the settlement following 2008’s post-election violence to produce and release a report ahead of the March 4 election.  The report was due by 2011.

Wycliffe Muga’s column in The Star this week, “Why There Will be No Violence,” explains his optimism:

. . . .

Actually, I am pretty sure that it won’t happen again. This election is going to be totally different from the 2007 one in three crucial respects:

First, we have an electoral body which only came into being through a process involving a broad consensus. Thus the IEBC, despite all its organisational weaknesses, is thus totally unlike the old ECK which President Kibaki openly stuffed with his cronies just before the election.

Then we have a new judiciary, the members of which have been subjected to public vetting, often of a very humiliating kind. And although there are those among us who still regard the Chief Justice Willy Mutunga as an ear-stud-wearing poseur, who has yet to prove his mettle, nonetheless no loser in any election can convincingly argue that “there is no point” in seeking justice from this judiciary.

Finally, we now have the ICC entrenched in our national life in a way which was inconceivable before the post-election violence came upon us. Those of us who knew anything of the ICC prior to this, tended to think that it was set up to try Serb militia chiefs; Congolese and Liberian warlords; and the likes of Joseph Kony.

Now we know better. And, more significantly, our top politicians know better. They know that the moment they send out any street gangs or private militias to do their dirty work, they have effectively supplied the ICC with the witnesses who will one day – from the safety of Europe – turn up in fine suits to offer evidence against them.

. . . .