The Commonwealth has appointed Botswana’s former President Festus Mogae to lead its observer group for Kenya’s upcoming general elections.
The Commonwealth Observer Group will arrive in Nairobi on 2 August and will be supported by a team from the Commonwealth Secretariat, led by Deputy Secretary-General Dr. Arjoon Suddhoo.
Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has invited the group to supervise the 9 August polls, following a previous visit by a Commonwealth pre-election assessment team in April.
“Election observation is an essential component of our efforts to support member countries to strengthen the processes, culture and institutions of democracy, and to enable citizen participation and representation at all levels,” said Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland.
“I am grateful to President Mogae and all observers for accepting this important assignment, as we continue to promote and protect electoral democracy – and the right of individuals to participate in processes which shape their societies through credible, inclusive and transparent elections – in line with the Commonwealth Charter”.
Ahead of the Group’s arrival, an advance team from the Commonwealth will arrive on 16 July to meet key stakeholders, including the election management body, political parties, civil society groups, media, and other international observers.
The team will travel across the country to build a comprehensive picture on the conduct of the process and to observe the campaign and the electoral preparations.
The Chair and observers will consider factors affecting the credibility of the electoral process and judge whether elections have been conducted according to the standards for democratic elections to which Kenya has committed – including legislation and relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments.
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Kenyans will vote in August in their fifth presidential elections since the introduction of multiparty politics in 1991. President Uhuru Kenyatta is stepping down, following the completion of two terms in office.
The upcoming elections in Kenya have sparked concerns over the safety and fairness of the process. High tension remains as previous elections have been met with large-scale violence.
Learn more: The Commonwealth Secretariat