When Kenya returns to the polls to decide its next president, the hundreds of election observers who attended last month’s vote might not be welcome. Election monitors are tasked with assessing the conduct of an election process as an independent party. Observers of this kind, from the African Union, the European Union, the Commonwealth Nations, and the United States-based Carter Center endorsed the results of Kenya’s Aug. 8 election. Former US secretary of state John Kerry, head of the Carter Center’s mission, applauded the process as “free, fair and credible” despite “little aberrations here and there.” Less than a month later, those aberrations, which include 5 million unverified ballots, led Kenya’s high court to annul the election, overturning the victory of incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta. The president should face his rival, opposition candidate, Raila Odinga again on Oct. 17, a date set by the electoral commission.
Criticism has quickly turned onto the role of election observers. Odinga, who petitioned the court to invalidate the vote, released a statement saying, “With this courageous verdict we put on trial the international observers who moved fast to sanitize fraud.”
When Kerry tweeted a response from the Carter Center on the court ruling, Kenyans flooded him with insults. “Please don’t come back to Kenya,” one wrote. “Come again, but this time go straight to the Masai Mara and back to the embassy,” another said, referring to Kenya’s national park, popular for safaris.