Kenyas Landmark Political Transition

By Norma Ray,2014-05-14 00:43
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Kenyas Landmark Political Transition

    USAID compete more effectively. The projects’

    invaluable contribution to the electoral assistance lauded for role in process elicited immense praise from the Kenya’s landmark transition: Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) and

    Untold tales of pre-election fears and how the wider election observer community.

    USAID assisted

    USAID provided briefings to the Democratic

    Development Group (DDG) consisting of 25 As the countdown to Kenya’s 2002 general

    embassies and the EU on the need for the elections ticked, an aura of both wishful

    parliament to pass certain regulations that excitement for the impending change in

    would enhance transparency and the need leadership; and fear in anticipation of the worst

    to renew the tenure of the Chair and Vice political violence yet to come was thick in the air.

    Chair of the ECK. The DDG and the US For many Kenyans, there was no doubt that the

    Embassy held press conferences and ruling party would possibly use violence to

    meetings with the government and retain power, that the opposition parties after

    opposition officials on the importance of losing twice were likely to stay united and

    these actions. These efforts along with counter violence with violence, that the Electoral

    those of local NGOs, paid off. The Commission of Kenya (ECK) and the police could

    regulations were passed and commissioner’s not be trusted to facilitate the transition with

    tenure extended. According to the ECK, impartiality given their track record.

    these diplomatic efforts had an impact on its ability to act independently. As the To further aggravate the situation, the perception of ECK’s independence and prevailing sense of impunity among political credibility increased, other bilateral donors contestants stemming from the violence in the were more willing to leverage USAID’s 1992 and 1997 multi-funding. Under USAID’s facilitation, ECK’s party elections that media campaign to reduce electoral violence claimed over 4,000 lives attracted 3 donors. The campaign was a and disenfranchised resounding success, with 88 percent of 600,000 individuals; the Kenyans interviewed stating that the proliferation of small arms campaign encouraged peaceful elections. in the country; the elevated financial status In addition, USAID supported the of being a public official establishment of the Central Depository Unit and the culture of buying (CDU) to serve as a center for collecting, votes had sealed Kenya’s fate of ever witnessing collating and disseminating electoral democratic and peaceful elections. Yet, the violence information from five Kenyan NGOs significance of the 2002 elections to Kenya’s involved in violence monitoring and the political future and history could not be media at large. CDU findings were underestimated, the country would not only specifically released to the ECK, the witness the stepping down of a long serving parliament, law enforcement agencies and leader, who was completing his constitutional the general public through the media, the last term after 24 years in power, but it would CDU website and CDU “Ghasia Watch” also witness the election of Kenya’s third newsletter. CDU’s findings revealed that 325 president since independence. people died between January and December 2002 from electoral violence. The value of In response to needs expressed by various CDU’s contribution was highly praised by the stakeholders, USAID/Kenya’s Democracy and ECK, “ the Central Depository Unit…was a Governance program launched several blessing to the country for it was able to integrated multi-million elections assistance monitor election campaign violence in many projects through various institutions to improve parts of the country and publicly publish its the electoral enabling environment, the electoral findings and publicly admonish the administration and monitoring process and to perpetrators. All these activities had a major increase the capacity of political parties to

    impact on the direction the elections took” to each District Office and Returning Officer Address by the ECK chairman, at a post-Offices, while satellite phones to offices with elections conference organized by the Africa no reliable telephone lines. Peace Forum and Working Group for Peaceful Elections. CDU is now recognized as the source A total of $1,038,774 worth of for information on electoral-related violence and communications network was provided intimidation. viz. 100 computers, 100 UPSs, 80

     printers, 158 fax machines and 111 With USAID funding, the National Democratic motorola satellite phones, significantly Institute for International Affairs (NDI) increasing the capacity of the ECK to facilitated dialogue between the ECK and the administer the elections and provide main political parties in Kenya, successfully secure communications and transit of enhancing consultation on mutual electoral ballots and electoral results between concerns and transparency in the electoral field offices and the Nairobi process. At a recent post-elections conference headquarters. “…although the system “Assessing the 2002 Elections: Lessons for the was not used to its full capacity…we Future,” the ECK Chairman, Mr. Samuel Kivuitu have no doubt that future elections will acknowledged that “...there was no doubt that be conducted more efficiently and these efforts by NDI bore positive results. They securely..” says Commissioner Jack helped narrow the gap between the political Tumwa. parties and ECK and also among themselves. In the end these efforts contributed directly to the peace we witnessed at election time. NDI In addition to its role as a member of the should be persuaded to continue with the steering committee on Britain’s Department program” for International Development (DFID) led multi-donor funded domestic elections The Agency for Development Education and monitoring program, USAID supported two Communication (ADEC) complemented NDI’s critical monitoring activities not funded by activities on political party institution other donors. The Media Institute (MI), strengthening by training party poll watchers. As monitored pre-elections and elections period that 19 media coverage of party campaigns and December, events highlighting traces of bias to the 2002, ADEC public and as such reducing incidences. had trained a Television, radio and print media were total of 2,214 covered. party poll watchers Through the Institute for Education in countrywide on Democracy (IED), live political party debates the rdwere broadcasted on the III Opinion on organization of Nation Television. While the International political parties, electoral laws/regulations and Republican Institute (IRI) conducted voter the role and conduct of party agents. The US registration promotions, trained journalists embassy provided 100 staff members from its and politicians on use of opinion polls and various agencies to serve as diplomatic poll polling methodologies and; conducted observers during the elections period. widely publicized opinion polls that were accurately confirmed by the elections results. An assessment of ECK’s communications and Religious organizations, {the Presbyterian networks system by the International Church of East Africa (PCEA) and the Muslim Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) in Civic Education Trust} were likewise February 2002, revealed that 2,350 polling supported to conduct parliamentary stations did not have a communication system. candidates’ and electoral issues debates. As a result, USAID and ECK agreed on a work

    plan to provide IT equipment and a fax machine

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