The un­for­tu­nate tale of elec­tion ob­servers who changed their mind so fast

The East African - - OPINION - Justo Lwali Via email

LESS THAN a week after the Supreme Court of Kenya or­dered a re­peat of pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, terming the ver­sion car­ried out on Au­gust 8 as rid­dled with “il­le­gal­i­ties and ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties,” for­eign elec­tion ob­servers, who had given the ex­er­cise a clean bill of health — even rat­ing it as the best elec­tion they have ob­served in Africa for a long time — made an about-turn: That they had ac­tu­ally raised is­sues about the trans­mis­sion of re­sults!

While this change of mind is wel­come to the side of the po­lit­i­cal di­vide that felt the ob­servers were un­truth­ful, it also begs many ques­tions: What was the ba­sis of a their pre­lim­i­nary con­clu­sion? Why, for in­stance, was John Kerry, who was lead­ing the Carter Cen­tre so in­sis­tent on the sup­posed loser of the elec­tion to “ac­cept and move on?” ver­dict?

We may never get the true — and in­crim­i­nat­ing — an­swers to th­ese ques­tions. That is fine. How­ever, we are left to won­der which part of the fi­nal re­port to be­lieve. More im­por­tantly, we are left ask­ing our­selves why we need elec­tion ob­servers who have two sets of an­swers to ev­ery chal­lenge. per­haps the team sent by the African Union, the Euro­pean Union and the Carter Cen­tre ex­pected to see some blood­shed and not find­ing any deemed the ex­er­cise free, fair and cred­i­ble?

But on a lo­cal, dig­ni­fied level: What must we do to ren­der elec­tion ob­servers not-socrit­cal a com­po­nent of our elec­tions?

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