“Preliminary Findings” released by Kenyan civil society coalition on election

Following the unlawful raid on AfriCOG in Nairobi yesterday, today the Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu election monitoring program which has been engaged since long before any of the International Election Observation Missions were constituted, released its Preliminary Findings.

Please read for yourself (especially if you have commented publicly so far on Kenya’s election).

Kenyan election – amid uncertainty, unfortunate there was no Kalonzo v. Ruto debate [updated 7 Aug]

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.

Thoughts on Kenya’s Supreme Court opinion [Updated]

UPDATE–April 21: Read Kenyan lawyer Wachira Maina’s devastating critique of the Court’s opinion from the new East African. Or at the AfriCOG website here: “Verdict on Kenya’s presidential election petition: Five reasons the judgement fails the legal test”.

Here is the full Kenyan Supreme Court opinion released this morning. It’s 113 pages, but most all of it is taken up by accounts of some of the arguments presented by the various attorneys.

The Court elected to apply a standard of proof that would require “in the case of data specific electoral requirements” petitioner to prove irregularities “beyond reasonable doubt”.

Overall, the Supreme Court simply deferred to the IEBC to decide how to run the election. The Court justified its constrained rulings on allowing evidence on the basis of strict and very short deadlines which it asserts are justified by the importance of the Presidential election–thus leaving more detailed trials for the more than 180 other challenges filed so far in the Courts below for the other races.

The Court did not give rulings on the admission of evidence such as the videotapes presented by AfriCOG’s counsel of results being announced at the County level that differed substantially from those announced by the IEBC at its national tally centre in Nairobi, or otherwise grapple with any specifics of reported anomalies, including those among the sample of 22 polling stations that were to be re-tallied. Nor did it address the fact that its order to review all 33,000 Forms 34 and the Forms 36 from all constituencies was only slightly over half completed.

The Court declined to impose legal consequences in terms of the announced election outcome from the failure of the IEBC’s technology, but significantly did find that the main cause of the failures of the electronic voter identification system and the electronic results transmission system appeared to be procurement “squabbles” among IEBC members. “It is, indeed, likely, that the acquisition process was marked by competing interests involving impropriety, or even criminality: and we recommend that this matter be entrusted to the relevant State agency, for further investigation and possible prosecution.”

See my previous post asking why we should trust the IEBC in light of the procurement integrity failings.

In closing, I have to note that the Court gave itself an extra two weeks after the deadline for its ruling to make any kind of explanation for that ruling. Then gave itself an additional two days. Similar flexibility in considering the facts of the case itself could have allowed it to do a more credible and substantive job of actually reviewing the election.

Was Kenya’s “Election Observation Group” or ELOG intended to be truly independent of IEBC? Or was it to “build confidence”? [Update 3-30 Further on “Overselling” ELOG and ELOG’s use by Counsel for the Gov’t in Court]

By appearances, ELOG certainly looks more like part of the effort to “build confidence” in the IEBC (to “promote peace”) rather than an independent watchdog.

Which would explain the problem noted in my previous post that their Parallel Vote Tabulation results by their own numbers indicate that most likely there should be a runoff between Kenyatta and Odinga but they announced that their results “confirm” the IEBC which found otherwise.  It would also explain why they have announced “conclusions” in support of the IEBC but not released their data or even their methodology.  Ironically, USAID, which supported the Parallel Vote Tabulation, also spent a lot of money over a period of years promoting greater sophistication in the Kenyan media in expecting transparency regarding polling methodology.  Today, in Kenya, the media would not ordinarily publish polling results with the lack of transparency that has accompanied ELOG’s PVT, which is based on some sort of an undisclosed “sampling” methodology akin to that used in other polling.

“Must reads” follow:

Kenya’s Election Observation Group (ELOG) announces its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) program as monitoring tool. (Daily Nation, Feb. 18, 2013)

“This (information) will be important to help remove any uncertainties by providing validation to the results given by the IEBC,” he added. . . .

“PVT will measure the votes cast and indicate whether the data should be trusted, based on information about voting and counting of the votes,” said Elog Chairman Kennedy Masime.

“This information will be specific and can be actionable for improving the process next time” he added.

But Elog was quick to warn that it would not be announcing results, a task only IEBC is mandated to perform.

While they will be tabulating results from the polling stations, the Observers said they would be in constant consultation with the Commission before releasing their verdict.

“We foresee a situation where if the elections are well managed, then there will be no fundamental differences with IEBC. But in the event that there is, then we would consult with the Commission,” Elog said in a joint statement.

USAID/Kenya–Success Stories: “Giving Fresh Credibility to Kenya’s Electoral System” (Feb. 8, 2013)

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission registered 14.3 million voters using the biometric voter registration technology system. Biometric data captured during the registration is  is being  linked with electronic voter identifiers (electronic poll books)  while text data is being used  for real time electronic result transmission and display systems. The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) invested over $ 6 million USD in the two systems, through United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). According to analyses, two of the most significant factors attributed to the failure of the 2007 election were the inability of the Electoral Commission of Kenya to compile a credible voter register, and the lack of an efficient results reporting system.

USAID has partnered with Civil Society Organizations  to ensure the effective use of the biometric voter registration technology in the upcoming 2013 presidential elections, to prevent fraud and reduce the likelihood of violence. . . .

Too bad the voter register was not finalized and published as required by law and the technology tools never fully designed and for the most part not implemented “on the ground” in the actual election.  A robust independent monitoring organization would, one would think, have more to say about that but, if these efforts were already a “success story” before the voting for bringing “fresh credibility” it becomes awkward . . .

USAID/Kenya–Success Stories: Parallel Vote Tabulation Restores Confidence in Kenyan Voters (Dec. 14, 2010):

The PVT – as acknowledged by the IIEC Chairman Ahmed Issack Hassan – was crucial in verifying the legitimacy of the referendum process as a whole and in restoring public confidence in the electoral process in Kenya.

Again, the overriding goal, achieving “success story” status, is to give the Kenyan public “confidence”.

 UPDATE:

An example of how the PVT has been oversold is a quote from the CapitalFM story covering the ELOG announcement on Saturday March 9 under the headline “Yes, Uhuru won–parallel vote tally shows”:  
 

“Thus the PVT can confidently verify that the official results for each candidate are accurate,” the group’s chairman, Kennedy Masime, said on Saturday afternoon.”

 
This is the basic point–the PVT result of 49.7 cannot “confidently verify” that Uhuru got 50%+1 at all.
 
Such statements then got translated further into statements like this from Ken Opalo in an interview in The Atlantic:

I don’t think the system meltdown affected the eventual result – a Parallel Vote Tabulation done by Elections Observation Group confirmed IEBC’s findings – but it raised concerns over IEBC’s vulnerability to manipulation. (emphasis added)

If ELOG does not wish to be a party to this, they can dial it back and have had more than two three weeks to do so; and more than two three weeks to release the details of their methodology and how it was executed as reputable polling firms are expected to do these days in Kenya.
Ultimately, ELOG’s initial statement was cited by respondents in the Supreme Court as evidence to uphold the IEBC’s decision to avoid a runoff even though ELOG had declined to be transparent and neutral by withholding its methodology and data.  Given the nature of the proceedings, there was no time in Court for either AfriCOG or CORD to probe or rebut the purported evidence from the Goverment.

Voter Registration challenges on Kenyan Coast

Nation: Voting problems on Coast. One is potential intimidation tactics discouraging voter registration, with the IEBC finding flyers calling for voters not to register or vote, and reports that youth, possibly associated with the separatist group the Mombasa Republican Council, have been seen copying down names of those registering. The second problem is that some politicians and local officials are reporting that groups of voters are being ferried from their home areas to register in other locations.

Obviously the IEBC will have large challenges. No surprise in that. A big question will be whether the IEBC will be seen as taking some level of decisive action to get in front of these situations, or not. In 2007 election, I was told afterwards that once it became clear that the ECK was both toothless, and not going to be an honest broker, the process degenerated as most of the players expected rigging and acted accordingly.

Friday Reading [updated]

Update–here is a new blog post from Progressio on the Somaliland election: “Election hots up, but remains largely peaceful.”

Somaliland election–preliminary observation report due on Monday.. Initial impressions are generally positive.

Turnout is low in Kenya’s voter registration so far.

The legal petition challenging the legal eligibility of ICC defendants Kenyatta and Ruto to seek the Kenyan presidency was suddenly dropped Thursday. The civil society petitioners’ lawyer, Ambrose Weda, “promised” an amended re-filing that would also seek an eligibility ruling on the other 3 candidates, Kalonzo, Odinga and Mudavadi:

There had been speculation that the group withdrew their petition as a result of pressure. Lawyer Ambrose Weda denied this, but in an interview with DW’s “Africalink”, political analyst Martin Oloo said he believed that they been under intense pressure and that “with the passage of time, we’ll get to know the details.”

Kenya National Commission on Human Rights has released a detailed report on the Tana River violence: well organized and planned attacks and killing. Fundamental tension over resources will remain unless/until solved. Download “28 Days of Terror in the Delta”.

Andrea Bohnstedt in The Star: “Anti-Corruption Fight in Uganda Seems Dead”.

James North in The Nation on M23, the DRC, Rwanda and the West.

U.S. Policy Toward a Post-Election Democratic Republic of Congo, Feb. 12, 2012 Testimony of Daniel Baer, Deputy Asst. Sec., Bureau of Democracy, Human Rights and Labor, before House Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health and Human Rights; Testimony of Don Yamamoto, Principal Deputy Asst. Sec, Bureau of African Affairs, Dept. of State; Testimony of Sarah Mendelson, Deputy Asst. Admin. for Democracy, Conflict and Humanitarian Affairs, USAID.

(Updated) Kenyan diaspora disenfranchised?; Kwamchetsi Makokha raises concern about Kenyan voter education; IFES seeks consultant

Update (Nov. 28):  IEBC Chair Isaac Hassan says that as an independent commission the IEBC will make its own decision about whether to cancel diaspora voting and is not bound by the Cabinet decision announced below.  He acknowledged that registration is not underway and that this part of the vote is in jeopardy.

“Kenyans in diaspora locked out of March election” Business Daily:

Kenyans in the diaspora will not vote in the March 4 General Election, the Cabinet decided last Thursday.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Eugene Wamalwa said the government decided that it will be impossible for Kenyans living abroad to vote owing to challenges facing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Mr Wamalwa said time and logistical constraints will not allow IEBC to register Kenyans in the diaspora. . . .

It’s been almost 2 1/2 years since the new constitution finally passed, providing for a right to vote for Kenyans living in the diaspora.  I am no big fan of the concept myself, but this is the law and I don’t see any unexpected challenges or difficulties in implementing it.

“Step up voter education, IEBC told” Daily Nation:

National Democracy Institute (NDI) consultant Kwamchetsi Makokha said on Tuesday the three months set for civic education was not enough to reach eligible voters.

“The period is not enough to reach the whole population. So many people know nothing about the devolved government and roles of the leaders,” he said. . . . during the launch of a sub-committee of the Political Parties Liaison Committee in Lamu.

I’ve heard elsewhere that there is significant lack of awareness by voters as to the nature of new positions up for election under devolved government under the new constitution.

In the meantime, IFES, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, is advertising for an Election Administration Advisor for Kenya:

In preparation for the 2013 elections, IFES is implementing a capacity-building program in support of Kenya’s electoral process in the areas of election technical support, voter registration, voter education, and election dispute resolution among others.

Under this short-term assignment, IFES seeks to support the integration of activities of other government and non-government organizations, who play critical roles in the electoral process, including but not limited to the Registrar of Political Parties, Political Parties and Candidates, Security Agencies, the Judiciary, Civil Society Organization, Religious Organization, and the Media.

Readings to prepare for the Kenyan election

Kenya Voting: "Curriculum Cooking"

The new report “Kenya’s 2013 Election: A Review of the Environment and Electoral Preparedness”, the latest installment for The Kenya National Dialogue and Monitoring Project from South Consulting was released last week.

No big surprises here, but worth reading for anyone planning to be involved from here forward.  The most unique thing about these reports is monitoring of public opinion in regard to the various reform and election preparations issues.  Takeaways: confirmation that the public nationally has still had a high level of support for the ICC process.  In Central and Rift Valley, support is significantly less than elsewhere, but still nears 50%. Confidence in the independence and expected effectiveness of the IEBC was holding up in spite of the problems with the BVR tender.  The reform process for the judiciary has been well received with a big increase in confidence in the courts versus the past.  On the other hand, nothing of significance has been done in regard to land issues, there has been little done of police reform, and the early pre-election violence has contributed to a large increase in the level of insecurity and expectations for violence around the elections.  Interestingly, however, there has been some uptick in perceptions of the police in spite of the lack of progress in implementing major reform.

A personal observation is that confidence in the IEBC is a double-edged sword.  If the IEBC has a real chance to deliver a fair and fully legitimate election, then a high level of public support going in can have significant advantages in encouraging the public to avoid cynicism, participate in the process, tone down “negative ethnicity” and avoid pre-election violence, etc.  Perhaps most importantly, it could help buy patience in addressing issues and problems that will inevitably arise in the final stages of a close election.  On the other hand, if the 2013 election turns out to be openly irregular as in 2007, the dashed expectations should be expected to be naturally volatile.

More important reading on what happened in 2007-08 from a study, Spontaneous or Premeditated? Post-Election Violence in Kenya, from Dr. Godwin Murunga published last year by the Nordic Africa Institute.

BVR Kits start arriving in Nairobi

The first two air deliveries of Biometric Voter Registration kits arrived in Nairobi from France today.  Here is the story from The Star, with some additional background:

The IEBC met with President Kibaki on Monday during which they sought to assure him of their preparedness to oversee the election.

The meeting with Kibaki followed a similar one with Prime Minister Raila Odinga where the government undertook to pay the entire cost of procuring the kits from its own resources but with the expectation that the government of Canada would sign off the concessionary loan to refund the cost which has now risen to more than Sh9 billion.

The manufacturer, Morpho Inc of France, had demanded full payment before delivering the kits. At the time, the government had only paid 40 per cent of the cost. Government then signed a loan facility of Sh7.2 billion with Standard Chartered Bank to pay for the 15,000 kits to clear the balance.

The Daily Nation reports that the IEBC is expected to announce the new compressed voter registration schedule tomorrow: 

A massive campaign to mobilise voters is expected to be put in place so as to attract a large number of Kenyans to register within one month due to time constraints.

“We want Kenyans to respond within a month because we will not extend the registration period. We will use the media and other available means to enhance our campaigns to target as many people as possible. We also expect politicians campaigning for various positions to pass this message to the targeted population,” Mr Hassan told a previous media briefing.

The delayed delivery of the equipment has been a major concern in the country forcing the shifting of various crucial timelines.

IFES to webcast Friday workshop on Kenya Diaspora voting

The live event will take place at the International Foundation for Electoral Systems headquarters in Washington from 10:00am to 2:00pm Eastern Daylight Time on Friday, November 2 (5:00pm to 9:00pm Nairobi):
A mandate of the newly appointed Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya is to enable diaspora voting. With this, there is immense pressure from political parties and diaspora groups to fully enable out-of-country voting during the March 2013 elections. The IEBC has enacted a policy that will allow Kenyan voters to register and vote at 47 embassies worldwide.
 
However, this policy may not completely satisfy the demands for out-of-country voting accessibility.
 
To promote better understanding of this issue among officials and leaders of the Kenyan diaspora, IFES will broadcast a workshop via live webcast to describe the complexities surrounding the out-of-country voting process.
 
Invited experts will examine key topics, including:
  • Implementation of out-of-country voting
  • Biometric voter registration and its significance in Kenya’s elections
  • Costs and benefits of Internet voting
  • Registration and voting procedures for members of the Kenyan diaspora
Featured speakers will include:
  • Ahmed Issack Hassan, Chairman, IEBC
  • Peter Erben, Senior Global Electoral Adviser and Chief of Party in Indonesia, IFES
  • J. Alex Halderman, Assistant Professor of Computer Science, University of Michigan
Moderated by Mike Yard, Chief of Party in Kenya, IFES
 
This event will be webcast.
Here is the link for the IFES Multimedia page for the webcast.