The Commonwealth Observer Group (COG) for Kenya has issued its final report on the 2022 general elections, which resulted in the election of William Ruto as the fifth president of the East African country. Led by The Hon. Bruce Golding, the former Prime Minister of Jamaica, the 15-member delegation concluded that the election, while encountering some challenges, was overall credible, transparent, inclusive, and mostly peaceful.
The Group commended the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff and polling personnel for their dedication and hard work in successfully managing this intricate logistical operation. While acknowledging significant advancements in the utilization of electoral technologies compared to the previous election, the Group identified areas requiring improvement. These included addressing delays in the results announcement process and enhancing transparency in finalizing the voter register.
From August 7 to 9, the Group was divided into 14 teams deployed to various regions including Nairobi (including Kiambu), Central (Nyeri, Kitui, and Meru), Coast (Mombasa), North Eastern (Machakos), Nyanza (Kisumu, Kisii), Rift Valley (Nakuru, Eldoret, Kitale, and West Pokot), and Western Region (Kakamega, Vihiga, Bungoma, and Busia).
The final report, officially presented to the Government of Kenya and distributed among pertinent stakeholders, builds upon the preliminary statement issued shortly after the August 11, 2022 elections. It offers a comprehensive evaluation of the entire electoral process. The report encompasses various recommendations, particularly addressing low voter turnout among young people. Suggestions include bolstering voter education through collaboration between the IEBC, civil society organizations, and the nation at large. The report underscores the necessity for political parties to engage young individuals in meaningful ways throughout the entire electoral cycle.
The Group also emphasized the importance of fully implementing constitutional and legislative provisions, including the constitutional two-thirds gender rule and the 2013 Elections Campaign Financing Act. Notably, the Group urged for earlier allocation of a greater portion of funding to the IEBC in the electoral cycle, rather than towards the end. This approach would enable the IEBC to better plan and execute electoral activities, such as boundary delimitation, in accordance with their desired timeline.
Commonwealth Secretary-General, The Rt Hon Patricia Scotland KC, expressed gratitude to the IEBC for inviting the Commonwealth Observer Group to oversee the election. “The Commonwealth Observer Group played a crucial role during the elections. I applaud their efforts and I hope that their recommendations will be received in the Commonwealth spirit of constructive engagement as part of efforts to improve future electoral processes. I will personally be following Kenya’s progress in implementing the Observer Group’s recommendations, and the Commonwealth Secretariat will continue to offer all necessary support to the people and government of Kenya in their journey of democratic development through our whole-of-election cycle approach.” Ruto’s main challenger, Raila Amolo Oginga, who has repeatedly dismissed the polls as a sham is yet to respond to the statement.
The Commonwealth is a voluntary association of 56 independent and equal sovereign states with a combined population of 2.5 billion people.