Following Kenya’s post-election bloody conflict, the African Union (AU) is considering a review of its Declaration of Principles Governing Democratic Elections on the continent, according to an official brief issued here Friday.
Apparently, the need for the review arose from the experience gained over the past five years, indicating that election observer missions did not have ample time to make adequate assessment of the polls.
According to the brief, presented to the Peace and Security Council (PSC) of the AU at its meeting on the current situation in Kenya, invitations for missions of the AU to observe and monitor elections should be made at least two months ahead of the election date.
“The observer and monitoring teams usually don’t stay long enough in a country t o determine how free and fair the election can be,” said Ambassador Oluyemi Adeniji, newly appointed chairman of sessions of the Panel of Eminent African Personalities that assisted Kenyan opposing parties agree on the formation of a coalition government.
Speaking to journalists after the PSC session, Adeniji said the panel still had a role to play in Kenya as a watchdog of the AU on the implementation of the measures aimed at resolving the crisis.
He explained that the decisions reached by the country’s political leaders were just the beginning of the stages towards full reconciliation.
“The stages have to be followed up and the AU is still interested that these dec isions are followed up. In addition, the panel may have suggestions to make to the Kenyan parties.
“The panel will report periodically to the PSC on the progress or lack of progress, because signature of these agreements has not meant the end of the mediation process there,” said Adeniji.
He said among the issues the panel would look into are the processes that led to the disputed election in Kenya, the process that led to the announcement of the results and the culpability of some of the participants in the electoral process. Panapress.
“It is going to be quite a demanding task,” Adeniji said. On future elections in Africa, Adeniji said: “I am quite sure they cannot avoid the question of the supervisory body … that is the electoral commission.
“That invariably is usually where the problem of elections focuses in most countries. The role of the electoral commissions is critical. But, how independent is it truly? What is the method by which it is chosen?
“If the supervisory authority is chosen in a way that can ensure their own neutrality, then the people will tend to believe the results as announced by that body .
“These days, people don’t just believe the results rightly or wrongly and that is what caused the continuation of the conflagration in Kenya,” he added.
Meanwhile, the PSC has urged the Kenyan parties to remain committed to the imple mentation of the comprehensive reform agenda that includes land reform, constitutional, legal and institutional reform and policies to address regional inequalities and lack of opportunities, as well as negative ethnicity.