African Union to send expert mission to monitor Kenya polls

Raila Odinga (2nd R), presidential aspirant, receives certificate of registration for presidential election in Nairobi, capital of Kenya, June 4, 2022. (Photo by Fred Mutune/Xinhua)
Raila Odinga (2nd R), a presidential aspirant, receives a certificate of registration for the presidential election in Nairobi, the capital of Kenya, on June 4, 2022. (Photo by Fred Mutune/Xinhua)

The African Union Commission (AUC) said it will deploy an international election expert mission to Kenya to observe the general elections slated for August 9.

The AUC said the deployment of an eight-member expert team mission is part of the continent body’s comprehensive and long-term engagement in the general elections in the East African nation.

“Their work will be complemented by long-term observers, who will be deployed a few weeks before the polls and short-term observers, who will be deployed a week before election day,” the AUC said in a statement issued Monday evening.

The August polls are set to be tightly contested between major coalitions — Kenya Kwanza headed by Deputy President William Ruto and Azimio la Umoja which is led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

President Uhuru Kenyatta who is serving his final term in office has opted to support Odinga, his former rival for the top post, who is making his fifth presidential run, rather than his own deputy.

The AUC said the core team experts will follow up on the electoral preparations, assess the political dynamics and genuine competitiveness and fairness of the electoral campaign, and maintain regular contact with national and international stakeholders before, during and after the elections.

The AU and the regional blocs — the East African Community and the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) — deployed a joint high-level pre-election assessment mission to Kenya in May to promote free, fair, peaceful and credible elections in the country. The joint mission recommended continued engagement in the electoral process to ensure violence-free, fair and credible elections that will strengthen Kenya’s democratic process.

Analysts say while previous Kenyan polls have been shaped mostly by ethnic politics, the 2022 race has also seen economic issues come to the fore, with both Odinga and Ruto promising sweeping reforms that will help spur economic growth.