Kenya: EU envoys threaten sanctions against Kenyan officials over poll tension

Nairobi, Kenya  (PANA) - Western envoys particularly the British, threatened to impose targeted sanctions against key Kenyan politicians on Monday, after holding talks with poll officials about preparations for the repeat presidential election on 26 Oct. 2017.

The Ambassadors and High Commissioners met with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission  (IEBC) leadership to discuss preparations for the new presidential election, amid rising political tension in Kenya.
“We are deeply concerned by the deterioration in the political atmosphere and the impact this has had on preparations for the election. We believe it is time for Kenya’s leaders and citizens to come together to work for a free, fair, credible, and peaceful poll,” the diplomats said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the police battled supporters of the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) demanding the exit of top IEBC officials and the purging of foreign multinational firms, which opposition supporters said were complicit in the rigging of the elections.

The foreign diplomats said they were committed to support Kenya's Constitution, laws, and institutions.  

In Kenya, nationwide protests demanding the exit of top IEBC official Ezra Chiloba and other senior management officials went for the second time in a week.

“We  have provided assistance to the IEBC, as well as for voter education and peace building in Kenya. We are continuing our support in the run-up to the new election,” the diplomats said, emphasizing that all sides need to prepare for an election within the Constitutional 60-day timeline.  

“It is critical that this election process be better than the last one and that it be free, fair, credible, and peaceful. It must be conducted consistent with Kenya’s Constitution and laws,” the diplomats said.

For this to happen, they said the IEBC must act decisively and everyone needs to respect its independence. Leaders on both sides must be reasonable in their demands of the IEBC and in their actions leading up to, and following, the new election.

“It would be impossible to remake the IEBC in a way that satisfies all political demands, and everyone should refrain from undermining it,” said the statement, urging both sides to  give the IEBC space, time, and respect.

"Do not paralyze the IEBC. It is the only institution Kenya has to run the election and ensure Kenyans can choose their president.  

“This is an opportunity for both sides to demonstrate leadership, strengthen Kenya’s democracy, and build the country’s international prestige,” the diplomats noted.

They regretted the opposite appears to be happening with an attempt  to pass through the draft “Election Laws Amendment Bill.”

According to the diplomats, the attempt puts at risk the IEBC’s ability to conduct a better election within the mandated 60-day timeline, and unnecessarily increases political tensions.

“Wise reforms to an established electoral process take time. They require thoughtful reflection and broad agreement from all parties. Well-established international best practice is to avoid changes to electoral rules just prior to an election," the diplomats cautioned.

In the same vein, the growing list of political demands, inflammatory rhetoric, and boycott threats undermine the IEBC’s ability to carry out its constitutionally-mandated job to hold a new election. For example, if IEBC personnel are to be removed, it should only be done by the appropriate authorities and be consistent with the law and relevant regulations.

"We urge all parties to engage immediately in a genuine dialogue with the IEBC regarding electoral procedures and processes," said the statement, calling on both sides to appear before the IEBC officials to discuss preparations for the fresh election.
-0- PANA AO/AR 2Oct2017

02 october 2017 19:37:32

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