15 March 2013 A United Nations team deployed to monitor human rights issues during the Kenyan elections today praised the African country for its largely peaceful polls earlier this month.
On 4 March, millions of Kenyans voted in presidential elections in which Uhuru Kenyatta narrowly avoided a run-off by winning 50.7 per cent of the ballots.
The team from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR) visited several polling stations on election day, and interacted with other international and local observers, UN agencies, national institutions, government officials and security agencies.
“[The team] has reported that the elections were peaceful and characterized by an absence of any systematic violations of human rights,” OHCHR spokesperson Rupert Colville said during a briefing to the press in Geneva.
However, he noted that the team, which finished its trip yesterday, also identified some challenges, including broken biometric voter registration kits, long queues at polling stations and the length of time it took for many voters to cast their ballots – in some cases up to 10 hours.
“In some polling stations, vulnerable people including pregnant women, nursing mothers and the disabled abandoned the queues and did not vote at all, because they did not have the physical strength to endure such a long wait,” Mr. Colville said.
The team also looked into the circumstances surrounding the attacks on the eve of the elections in a suburb of Mombasa, allegedly carried out by the Mombasa Republican Council, which resulted in the death of nine policemen. Three suspects have been arrested, arraigned in court and placed under investigative custody.
“The Office of the High Commissioner congratulates the Government and people of Kenya for the broadly successful conduct of the national elections, and we hope that Kenya will continue on the path of reform and social justice,” Mr. Colville added.
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