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March 05, 2013

Voting Monitors Say Kenya Showed Maturity in Balloting

by Peter Clottey

The U.S.-based Carter Center election monitoring group plans to release its preliminary report on Kenya’s elections on Wednesday.

“It was a peaceful election and it was a vibrant election,” said John Stremlau, the vice president for peace programs at the Carter Center.

He says Kenyans have so far demonstrated maturity during Monday’s balloting.

“We commend the Kenyan people and [especially] the electoral management body for its outstanding work and the patience of the voters who stood in line for many hours in the blazing heat to get their vote cast,” said Stremlau.                   

Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says there was a massive turn out during Monday’s vote despite concerns over possible violence. The IEBC said the election was largely peaceful in spite of isolated cases of deadly violence in some parts of the country.

The IEBC estimates that 14 million Kenyans were eligible to vote in the elections, the first since the 2007-2008 post-election ethnic violence. The electoral body however expressed concern that more than 300,000 ballots had been rejected so far. 

IEBC commission chairman, Ahmed Isaack Hassan, suggested those ballots were either marked incorrectly or dropped into the wrong box at polling stations.   

“Let’s hope that the results when they become known will lead to the winner showing generosity to the defeated, and the defeated accepting with magnanimity the loss. Because I think all Kenyans want to move on and have this become a prosperous stable country,” said Stremlau.

Kenya is the first country in Africa to conduct an election this year. Some analysts have said a peaceful Kenya vote could be an example to other nations holding elections this year.

“It’s certainly a bellwether that we hope proves to be eminently successful,” said Stremlau.

He says the Carter Center poll monitoring team worked closely with other international and regional observer groups, including the African Union, the East African Community and the European Union’s poll monitoring group.

“They have all seen the same thing that we have seen, which is competency and determination and basically congenial and peaceful good will by the large majority of Kenyans…to pick a new leader,” Stremlau said.
Clottey interview with John Stremlau, Carter Center senior official