Amid fear of violence, African Union team to assess Kenya's election preparations

Kenya will elect new president, lawmakers on Aug. 9, concerns of repeat of violence seen after 2017 polls remain high.

Amid fear of violence, African Union team to assess Kenya's election preparations

The African Union (AU) on Monday said it has sent a pre-election assessment team to Kenya ahead of the Aug. 9 general polls.

The team includes members of the Panel of the Wise, an AU consultative body, along with independent electoral experts and technical staff from the AU Commission, according to a statement.

It will be in Kenya until May 20 to review the “state of preparedness … and the overall context in which the polls will take place,” the AU said.

“Importantly, the mission is deployed jointly with members of the Common Market for Eastern and Southern Africa (COMESA) and the East African Community (EAC),” the statement said.

It will also “engage in consultations and dialogue with key political and electoral stakeholders in Kenya to promote peaceful, credible, and inclusive elections.”

Millions of voters will elect Kenya’s new president and members of the National Assembly and Senate on Aug. 9.

Having served the maximum possible two terms, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta is out of the presidential race.

A close contest is expected between the two main contenders – William Ruto, Kenya’s deputy president since 2013 and leader of the United Democratic Alliance, and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, who heads the Orange Democratic Movement.

Kenyatta has opted to support Odinga, his former rival for the top post who is making his fifth presidential run, rather than his own deputy.

Kenya grappled with months of post-election violence in 2017 that claimed dozens of lives.

Kenyatta and Odinga eventually announced a rapprochement in 2018, bringing to an end months of unrest and poll-related violence.