Table of Contents

  • We were in no doubt that the transition from a one-party to a multi-party system of government would be a difficult process. We further recognised that that the ethnic diversity of Kenya might throw special local complexities on these elections. The reports we received on initial efforts to introduce the multiparty system seemed to confirm some specific early difficulties, such as an insufficient de-linking of the role of government from that of the ruling party.

  • The invitation to the Commonwealth from the Government of Kenya to observe the first multi-party elections in almost 30 years followed a decision by the Government in December 1991 to begin the process of transition from a single-party to a multi-party democratic system. It coincided with a renewed Commonwealth commitment by Heads of Government at Kuala Lumpur in 1989 and at Harare in 1991 to assist member countries in the promotion of democratic processes. In support of that commitment, the Commonwealth has in the past two years sent observer missions to Malaysia, Bangladesh, Zambia, Seychelles, Guyana and Ghana.

  • Kenya achieved independence on 12 December 1963 with Jomo Kenyatta as the first Prime Minister and later President when Kenya became a republic in 1964. Prior to independence two national political parties had emerged to contest elections in 1961, namely the Kenya African National Union (KANU) and the Kenya African Democratic Union (KADU). KANU was victorious in this election and again at the 1963 pre-independence election to a bicameral legislature.

  • Changing a society that has been operating under a one-party system of government to a multi-party system is fraught with difficulty. While the process of constitutional reform is comparatively simple, the fundamental problems lie in reforming the administrative machinery of the state and in transforming the attitudes of civil servants, political leaders and party activists nurtured in the one-party system. If this process is to be successful, it is important that steps be taken by the Government and the ruling party on a timely basis to create a political climate hospitable to new and inexperienced political parties.

  • A fair and efficiently conducted registration of voters is a sine qua non for a free and fair election under a multi-party system. The reports which we received from opposition political parties suggested that there were many imperfections in the register compiled during June-July 1992. A very serious allegation was that between one and three million potential voters were unable to register because they had not been issued with Identity Cards (ID) which were a prerequisite for registration.

  • The formal campaign period began with the nominations for Parliamentary candidates on 9 December 1992. With the Advance Team on the ground in Nairobi from 7 December 1992, and the arrival on 16 December of the main Group, we were in effect present throughout the period of the formal campaign, and were therefore in a position to observe all aspects of it. But political campaigning by the fledgling opposition political parties had effectively begun well before nominations on 9 December, and indeed not long after the announcement in December 1991 of the return to multi-party democracy.

  • Even before the opening of the official campaign, opposition parties began to complain that they were being denied reasonable access to the media in general and to the publicly-owned radio and television in particular. They repeatedly gave expression to resentment at what they felt was biased reporting on radio and television. They also alleged that their electoral activities and pronouncements were being blacked out by the official media.

  • Polling day was marred by scenes of disorganisation and confusion at the opening of the polls. Most polling stations throughout the country failed to open for voting at the appointed hour of 6 a.m. and did not do so until two or three hours later. Indeed, in many cases stations were not able to open until the afternoon of polling day, and as a consequence, long queues of hundreds of voters could be seen outside these stations, even well after 6 p.m.

  • These were elections which proved difficult to evaluate in terms of freeness and fairness. It was evident to us from the start that some aspects of the elections were not fair.