With just three days left before Kenyans go to the polls to conduct the first general elections under a new constitutional dispensation, a number of the key ministries, departments and agencies that are directly involved in the electoral process have assured the Kenyan people that they have put in place sufficient measures to ensure that the polling process will culminate in a credible electoral outcome that will secure a peaceful transition. The Kenya Human Rights Commission (KHRC) has, in the process of monitoring the preparedness of the country to engage in the March 4, 2013 general elections found out that a significant number of positive steps have been and continue to be undertaken towards securing free, fair and peaceful elections.


The KHRC commends the active measures as well as the firm commitments that have been given by the various state agencies and political parties towards ensuring a transparent and informed electoral process. Specifically, we want to single out the following initiatives:


  • In our earlier interim report on elections released two weeks ago, we noted that civic education was sorely missing and that the IEBC needed to take roll-out civic education promptly. We are glad to note that the IEBC has actively taken up civic education ahead of the elections and that voter education is being conducted through various public fora as well as through media platforms, mainly through TV and radio infomercials. The recently concluded mock-voting exercise also offered the IEBC a good opportunity to test the voting system and where identified, take remedial measures ahead of the March 4th General Elections.
  • One of the biggest challenges facing the key political protagonists (ODM and PNU) in the lead-up to the 2007 General Elections was the insistence by ODM that the judicial system was partial and therefore incapable of handling an electoral dispute. Kenya’s Judiciary has undergone (and is still undergoing) radical transformation and there is increasing confidence among the Kenyan public that courts can be trusted to be impartial arbiters of all socio-economic and political conflicts. This bodes well for the country as we get ready to go to the polls on March 4, 2013. Politicians have publicly stated that they will handle any elections dispute(s) through the courts. The Chief Justice and the Judiciary have established electoral courts and regulations that will oversee the judicious determination of electoral disputes and the swearing in of new leaders at national and county level.

The joint calls by the presidential candidates to their supporters for the peaceful conduct of campaigns and elections through infomercials, campaign events and a recently concluded national day of prayer and peace concert. When politicians make calls for peaceful elections to their supporters;  when they are seen together in public making a commitment to the nation that ‘Kenya is bigger than any of their individual political ambitions’ and that they will resort to non-violent means to resolve any electoral dispute they might have, then it can be said that the right kind of messages aimed at cooling off the searing political temperatures as opposed to the inflammatory messages aimed at fanning tension are getting through.

  • The undertaking of the Inspector General of Police to guarantee security and order throughout the electoral process is commendable. The country has witnessed serious incidents of insecurity in the lead up to the general elections and all measures must be put in place to ensure that Kenyans are safe especially during this time of high-stakes elections.
  • The gazettement of the appointed National Land Commissioners by the President in light of the on-going heated debates on the politics of land-ownership and governance in Kenya is a welcome mitigating measure against the rising political temperatures around issues touching on real or perceived land injustices. The National Land Commission has been constitutionally mandated to address the issue of land reforms. Politicians should therefore avoid making land a divisive issue and give the Land Commission an opportunity to discharge its mandate and resolve all the issues surrounding land ownership and use in Kenya.
  •  Various initiatives by the  civil society, private sector, religious and development organizations and other non-state actors, including ELOG’s innovative approach of establishing a parallel vote tabulation center and the UN Women’s launch of a situation room to observe and intervene on matters affecting women during the elections are all welcome measures to ensure that the integrity and outcome of the March 4th General Elections is not compromised.
  • The two Presidential debates that were held in the month of February 2013. We laud this noble initiative and take this opportunity to congratulate the organizers of the historic debates. The debates were significant since they sought to promote issue-based discussions around key governance concerns. While the jury is still out on whether the debates played any role in influencing the choice of voters—especially in moving them away from ethnic-driven voting to issue-based voting—we at the KHRC are confident that the debates mark the beginning of a new brand of politics where governance issues, as opposed to ethnic-mobilization, will be the determining factor in electing leaders into political office.
  • Two days ago, the 17 constitutional commissions and independent offices with the mandate to deal with different components of electoral governance came together to appraise Kenyans of their preparedness-both at individual and collective levels towards elections. This has minimized political uncertainty and increased public confidence towards the electoral process and outcome.
  • The outgoing president has also invited the eight presidential candidates, the chief justice and chair of the IEBC for a breakfast meeting which will be part of the confidence building mechanism ahead of the political transition.
  • Finally, the presence of the Inter-governmental observer groups from the African Union, the East African Community, COMESA, IGAD, the Common Wealth, the United Nations and the European Union as well as a host of individual countries and other international elections observation groups provide an environment of ‘collective-watching’, which is likely to greatly diminish both the room and the opportunity of those who might be out to commit electoral malpractices.

All the foregoing measures are good in promoting a favorable environment where as a country; we will secure an open, peaceful and informed electoral process and a peaceful outcome to the 2013 general elections. However, a number of concerns still remain. In monitoring the campaign process, the KHRC found out that incidents that clearly show the continued flouting of electoral laws as relates to the political campaigns remain rampant. This report seeks to highlight the incidences of bribery, violence and intimidation, incitement and the use of unsavory language, the misuse of state resources during political campaigns as well as the destruction of campaign materials by political rivals that were captured by monitors in the course of the now almost concluded campaigns.

  1. Voter Bribery: In blatant violation of the provisions of Section 64 of the Elections Act, several aspirants have engaged in attempts to induce support from voters through the direct or the indirect disbursement of monies to participants of public assemblies that the said aspirants have addressed. The practice of bribery is often indirect, with payments being made on behalf of an aspirant thorough his/her henchmen. Payments are usually in cash though some have opted to use the mobile phone money transfer services to disburse money to voters. This has also taken the form of buying identity cards with a view to disenfranchising voters based in areas perceived to be opponent’s strongholds.
  2. Violence, Intolerance and Intimidation: Contrary to the guaranteed constitutional freedoms of assembly under Article 36 as well as the restrictions of the Elections Act in Section 67 (1) the use of violence and intimidation by some of the supporters of rival political parties continues to plague political campaign activities in some areas. There were near violent disruptions of campaign events in in Embu, Kiambu and Thika which would have degenerated were it not for the speedy intervention of the police service operating in those areas at the time. Over the last weekend, we also noted reported incidents whereby candidates were either booed or had their speeches disrupted in Nairobi, Kisumu and Baringo.
  3. Violations targeted against women and other vulnerable groups:  Women candidates continue to experience intimidation from powerful offices and both discrimination and lack of support within their parties, being considered as weaker candidates.
  4. Incitement and use of unsavoury language: In 2007 the overt use of hate speech and insults against political competitors contributed significantly to the violence that was experienced in the aftermath of the elections. The use of hate speech is no longer overt and resort is now had to subtle incitement and outright threats through the distribution of leaflets and application of unsavoury language whose effect is to create an atmosphere of irrational apprehension against competing candidates and supporters. While raising factual matters about an opponent’s policies and competencies is crucial to democratic debate, the vilification of one’s political rivals goes beyond what is necessary for democratic political dialogue. It is for this reason Section 67 (1) (m) of the Elections act criminalizes the dissemination of information with the intention of, amongst other things, creating hostility or fear in order to influence the process and outcome of the elections. While outright name-calling  has not been observed, there were numerous occasions where competing candidates  used phrases or imagery that portrayed their opponents in bad light or demeaned them.
  5. Misuse of State Resources and Offices: The use of state resources has continued in campaigns regardless of IEBC warnings to the contrary. Our monitoring has continued to reveal that government vehicles are still being used in political campaign activities contrary to Section 68 (1) of the Elections Act. Often, these government vehicles are disguised with civilian number plates to avoid detection. Moreover, there are allegations that some state officers may be getting involved in politics and partisan electoral projects contrary to the existing laws and policies. We opine that the abuse of public resources and state offices in the process of political contest should raise significant questions about the party’s capability of respectfully and transparently applying state resources.
  6. Destruction of campaign materials: The destruction of political party campaign material continues unabated despite the express reprimands against the same by the IEBC and the provisions of the Elections Act in Article 67 (1) (n). It seems that aspirants and their adherents are unwilling to contest fairly, respect the political space of others and abide by the explicit directives of the elections management body.

In conclusion, the KHRC commends the above-mentioned state agencies including the IEBC; National Police Service and Judiciary, for the actions that they are taking towards ensuring the delivery of a peaceful and credible election. The KHRC also notes and welcomes the presence of national, regional and international observer groups. We are concerned that the above mentioned violations continue and request the relevant authorities and political players to ensure that the law is respected and enforced. We believe that ensuring the delivery of a peaceful and credible election will only be achieved if citizens also contribute by being vigilant and we urge our fellow citizens to take up this role. Finally, we take this earliest opportunity to urge fellow Kenyans to turn up in big numbers and vote peacefully and conscientiously during the March 4, 2013 General Elections.


Atsango Chesoni,

Executive Director