Sierra Leone Telegraph: 5 August 2022
Former President of Sierra Leone – Ernest Bai Koroma, departed Freetown for Nairobi, Kenya, on Wednesday 3 August 2022, where he is leading the African Union Elections Observation Mission (AUEOM), following an invitation from the Chairman of the African Union (AU) Commission, HE Moussa Faki Mahamat.
Kenya will be holding its general elections on 9 August which are being stiffly contested by four presidential candidates. The aspirants are vying to succeed President Uhuru Kenyatta whose second term ends in August.
The AU is keen on ensuring that the polls are peaceful, credible and the outcome widely accepted. As such, the continental body is once again drawing on President Koroma’s vast experience in handling such highly contested elections.
“Given your vast experience and commitment to promoting democracy and peace on the African Continent, I wish to invite you to lead the AUEOM to the Republic of Kenya…,”stated HE Mahamat in his invitation letter.
It could be noted that the Sierra Leonean statesman had served the AU exemplarily well through elections observation missions in Namibia and Zambia. He also successfully led ECOWAS elections observation missions to Togo, Benin and The Gambia.
“The whole of Africa is wishing Kenya well in its critical democratic journey. I am optimistic that the leaders and all Kenyans, will emerge from this election stronger, more democratic and more united,” said President Koroma.
In his welcome remarks to fellow AU Short-Term Election Observers, Koroma said: “Distinguished Observers, Ladies and Gentlemen. You are all warmly welcome to this Joint African Union-COMESA Election Observer Mission (AUEOM) to the Republic of Kenya. Many of you might have previously observed elections in your own countries and in other places. As you will have noted, no two countries are the same. Political and Electoral Contexts differ as will experience as an observer.
“However, the mandate of this joint African Union and COMESA Election Observer Mission is to make an independent, objective, and impartial assessment of the electoral process in accordance with the provisions of the international standards and principles that our two organisations have committed to. These are the 2007 African Charter on Democracy, Elections and Governance (ACDEG) and the 2012 OAU/AU Declaration of Principles Governing Democratic Elections in Africa, Guidelines on the Conduct of COMESA Election Observer Missions. We should also measure these elections against the Constitution and Electoral Laws of Kenya.
“You may be aware that recent elections in Kenya have been marred by challenges and controversies and contested outcomes. The 9 August general elections which you are here to observe may not be different. The contestation for the Presidential election is high. Citizens, voters, and candidates are paying close attention to the process, the outcome and indeed to the assessments of International Election Observers. Tension and anxiety if not managed well may lead to violence. This then makes our presence and responsibility as continental and regional organisations, extraordinarily important in view of the mandate of our organisations and our overall visions for a peaceful, prosperous, and integrated Africa.
“In light of this, as Short-Term Observers you have a demanding task ahead of you and I hope that this three-day briefing programme will enrich your understanding of the context of the elections, as well as the level of preparedness of the Kenyan electoral stakeholders and the conduct of the 9 August 2022 general elections.
“I strongly believe that our Joint Mission together with the other Regional and International Observer Missions invited to these Elections will make valuable contributions in strengthening the democratisation of this country and promoting peace, stability and prosperity in Kenya. I kindly request that, throughout the mission you apply strict neutrality and objectivity as well as adhere to the African Union and COMESA Codes of Conduct for Election Observers, particularly respect for national laws, customs and traditions of Kenyans, refrain from talking to the media, cooperate and follow instructions from the briefing sessions and in particular our Coordination Team.
“Over the past few years, the observation methodologies used by both the African Union and COMESA have improved lending greater credibility to our work in election observation missions. Part of these improvements ensures that the mission’s technical team objectively capture and analyze the information that you as observers will send in on election day, as this will form part of our overall assessment of the 9 August elections.
“Having said that, let me wish those who will be deployed outside Nairobi safe travels. To everyone I wish you a productive experience during your period of deployment. On this note, I officially launch this Joint AU-COMESA Election Observer Mission to the Kenya 9 August 2022 General Elections. Thank You.”
President Koroma and his team will engage various stakeholders in government, the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, political parties, civil society, the media, the diplomatic community and others involved in the electoral process. The AUEOM in Kenya will include elections experts and diplomats drawn from the AU member states.
The Former President is expected to return home on 12 August 2022.