NAIROBI, The Commonwealth said former president of Ghana John Dramani Mahama will lead a 15-member team of observers to monitor Kenya’s general elections on Aug 8.

The Commonwealth Secretary-General Patricia Scotland has constituted the 15-member group at the invitation of Kenya’s Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to monitor the tightly contested polls.

Speaking ahead of the group’s arrival in Kenya, Scotland urged all stakeholders in Kenya to commit to ensuring peaceful and transparent elections in which candidates and voters are free from intimidation, and the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly are respected.

“The Commonwealth Charter recognizes the inalienable right of individuals to participate in democratic processes, in particular through free and fair elections in shaping the society in which they live,” she said in a statement.

The deployment of Commonwealth observer group follows the visit of a pre-election assessment team to the country in March.

Kenyans will vote on Aug 8 to choose among candidates for the presidency, National Assembly, Senate, and County Governors and County Assemblies.

Scotland said the Commonwealth observers will assess a number of factors to ensure the credibility of the electoral process as a whole.

“This includes the pre-electoral environment, the voting process, counting and tabulation procedures, as well as the announcement of results,” she said.

The independent group will determine whether the elections have been conducted according to the standards to which Kenya has committed itself.

“This includes its own election-related legislation as well as relevant regional, Commonwealth and international commitments. Where appropriate, the Group may also make recommendations for the future strengthening of the electoral framework,” Scotland said.

The Commonwealth chief said observers will act impartially and will adhere to the standards of the International Declaration of Principles for Election Observation, to which the Commonwealth is a signatory.

She said these elections represent another positive step towards consolidating the reform and devolution process.

“Commonwealth has had a longstanding and fruitful relationship with Kenya. We stand in solidarity with its people as they exercise their right to choose leaders who will continue to advance the democratic and development gains made following the last elections in 2013, which were the first to be held under the new Constitution,” she said.

The observer group’s report will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General, who will thereafter send it to the Kenya government, the IEBC, political parties, and eventually to all Commonwealth governments. It will then be made public.

An advance group of Commonwealth observers arrived in Kenya on July 19 and will be joined by the remainder of the Group on July 31.


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