EAC to deploy poll observers in Kenya
The Arusha-based, East African Community Secretariat is in the process of deploying a special team of observers to monitor the next Kenyan General Elections to be held early next year.
The EAC Secretary General, Dr Richard Sezibera, stated that the move is among the various initiatives being taken at regional level to ensure that bloodshed which resulted from Kenya’s 2007 General Elections in which over 1,000 people were killed, scores injured and half-a-million displaced would not happen again.
Dr Sezibera was speaking at the African Good Governance (AGF) VII Sub-Regional Forum held at the Ngurdoto Mountain Lodge in Meru District of Arusha. The event was officially opened by the Minister of State, Good Governance, Mr George Mkuchika.
“We have been invited by the Kenyan electoral commission and taken the responsibility to ensure that the observers are sent there early enough before the actual elections so that they can monitor even the polls’ early preparations and advise us appropriately,” revealed Dr Sezibera.
The Secretary General admitted that all East African Community Member states have been suffering poorly managed general elections some of which have resulted into legal suits, fightings and even bloodshed adding that it was time for the region to learn from past mistakes and conduct polls that will be credible to local people.
“Let’s face it, many countries in Africa have been conducting elections to simply satisfy foreign observers or essentially donor communities, ignoring their own citizens,” said Dr Sezibera explaining that the EAC will help to change this concept.
The Secretary General pointed out that it was time for the five EAC partner states of Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania and Burundi to invest the same energy and efforts they normally use to please foreigners, to build trust among the local people during their respective political endeavours precisely general elections.
He also assured that there were efforts to create a system that will seal all loopholes that have been making local leaders feel like they were above the law thus do anything they feel like, including stealing elections or rigging votes, knowing they can always get away with anything.
He stated that among the steps being taken was to give the East African Court of Justice (EACJ) which is based in Arusha, more mandate instead of its current sole responsibility of interpreting the Treaty for the establishment of the EAC.
“For instance, effective from this July 2012 the EACJ will cease to operate as an ad-hoc legal institution and becomes a fully-fledged court with permanent judges serving at the court on full-time basis,” explained Dr Sezibera.
The Good Governance meet was organized by the Political Federation Department of the EAC, the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa, the African Union Commission and the UNDP regional bureau for Africa.
By MARC NKWAME, Tanzania Daily News
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