Kenya polls: A Ugandan eye-witness’ account
- Written by Sadab Kittata Kaaya
Politicians from both the ruling NRM and the opposition could learn from the just-ended, tightly-contested Kenyan presidential election, Ugandan poll observers have said.
Kakuuto MP Mathias Kasamba who was a Ugandan observer, says he and his four parliamentary colleagues Fred Badda (Bujumba), Rose Akol (Bukedia Woman), Tony Ayol (Kwania) and Sarah Netalisire (Manafwa) would write a report to Parliament that will highlight useful recommendations based on their firsthand experience in Kenya.
Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s founding president, won the presidential contest by the slimmest of margins with 50.07 per cent, just enough to avoid a run-off after a race that has divided the nation along tribal lines.
Kasamba said in an interview with The Observer last week that they were blown away by the superior level of organization of the elections. He said there was little room for complaints of rigging lodged with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). At each polling station, at least six electoral clerks assisted the presiding officers and polling assistants.
Following fears of a repeat of the 2007 post-election violence that killed hundreds of Kenyans, Kenyan police deployed heavily on the streets, in key towns and polling stations.
Kasamba also noted that contrary to the Ugandan situation, there were no reports of intimidation of voters by security personnel. The streets remained calm, despite a militia attack in Mombasa that killed at least 12 people.
Voting after dark
At some polling stations like at Moi Avenue primary school, voting went on up to about 8:30pm. This polling station had one of the longest queues of voters, stretching up to two kilometres.
“This polling station had 12 voting booths and at about 8:30pm, the booths still had voters waiting to cast their votes,” Kasamba told The Observer.
Several other polling stations where voting started late, stayed open to voting after 5pm – the official time for closing the polling stations.
The registers were foolproof, Kasamba said. There was no room for multiple voting, like the case is here (Uganda), the MP said.
“They are ahead of us, they already have the national IDs which every voter was required to produce at the polling station, plus a voter’s card, and the particulars on the cards would then be verified using the biometric voter identification device which may not be easy in Uganda,” he said.
Although some polling stations in rural areas had problems with the electronic voters’ register after the laptop batteries ran down, the hard copy register was free of ghost voters.
Before counting of the votes could begin, Kasamba said, polling officials in the presence of the candidates’ agents had to first reconcile the ballots cast with the registers, before the ballot boxes could be opened for the counting to begin.
After counting, the presiding officers electronically transferred the results to tally centres established at the county level, which would then transfer the results to the national tally centre.
“Before leaving this place, we are going to sit and compile a report that we shall present to Parliament suggesting some recommendations basing on our experience in this election,” Kasamba said.