The Bruce Golding, former Prime Minister of Jamaica, led Commonwealth Observer Group, yesterday presented its preliminary findings of the 9 August 2022 General Elections in Kenya.

The Group arrived in Nairobi on 2 August, at the invitation of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya (IEBC), and were deployed in small teams to 20 counties across the country to observe all aspects of the election process including pre-poll, the opening of polling stations, the voting process, and the counting of ballots.

They were preceded by an advance Commonwealth Observer Team that has been in the country since 16 July.

Issuing the Group’s interim statement at a press conference in Nairobi, Bruce Golding, Chairperson of the Group, commended the efforts by political parties, their leaders, presidential candidates, and the people of Kenya, to foster a peaceful environment in the lead-up to the elections.

The findings of the Group’s observation concluded that election day was largely peaceful and orderly, with voters, who turned out in large numbers, expressing their commitment to peaceful elections.

They also commended IEBC and polling staff for their respective roles in ensuring that the close of polls and counting of votes followed due process, with a high degree of transparency.

However, the Group noted that some electoral processes such as the use of the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) kit, which is used to register and identify voters using biometrics, the application of procedures by polling staff, and the time lag between the announcement of the official results by the IEBC and the provisional ones by the media, can be further strengthened.

In concluding the press conference, the Chairperson said:

“I wish to commend the people of Kenya for the peaceful and orderly manner in which they exercised their right to vote on 9 August 2022.

“As the results management phase of the electoral process reaches its finalisation, we call upon all political party leaders and their supporters to continue to show restraint and magnanimity.

“It is our hope that by bringing this electoral process to a successful conclusion, Kenya will serve as an inspiration for the Commonwealth and indeed, the rest of the world, that relevant lessons have been learned from the past, and that each successive election is an improvement on the previous one.”

The comprehensive final report, which will set out the full findings on the entire election process, will be submitted to the Commonwealth Secretary-General and thereafter shared with the Government of Kenya, IEBC, political parties, and Commonwealth governments, before being made public.

The report will also offer several recommendations for consideration to contribute toward the deepening of democracy and strengthening future electoral processes.

The Commonwealth has been observing electoral processes for over four decades. In that time, more than 160 elections have been observed in 40 countries.

Commonwealth Observer Groups (COGs) are independent and autonomous and will normally be chaired by a former Head of Government or senior political figure.

They are composed of eminent persons from a range of fields, including electoral commissioners, parliamentarians, legal experts, gender experts, human rights experts, and media experts. Most COGs will also have a youth representative.

Members are drawn from all regions of the Commonwealth and are appointed in their individual capacities. All missions are supported by a small team from the Secretariat.

Each COG is constituted by the Secretary-General following an invitation or welcome from a country’s election commission or government.