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EUEOM Presidential, Parliamentarian
and Civic Elections Kenya 2002

Nation, Thursday December 26, 2002 - Page 2

The mission head, Mr. Anders Wijkman, said the 140 observers would visit more than 1,000 polling stations countrywide to witness the opening of ballot boxes, casting and counting of votes.

He said the team, which has been in the country for more that a month, would compile a detailed report on the polls.

The group has held meetings with party leaders, the Electoral Commission and government officials and visited voters in many parts of the country.

"This transition is very important to the EU and we won't just operate like tourists . We have been closely following the party nominations, preparation and security of polling material, "Mr. Wijkman said.

He said the mission, which arrived in the country mid last month, had documented some of its findings, but a preliminary report would be cross-checked with what happens on polling day.

He said the 1992 and 1997 elections were marred by irregularities, adding that voters feared that a similar thing would happen again.

The mission cited suspension of voter registration as one of the factors that could influence the outcome of the elections.

Said Mr. Wijkman: "There are young Kenyan adults who were locked out of registration. If the results of the leading candidates are too close to call, then it will be said these youths would have made the difference."

He said the EU team was consulting with local and other foreign observer groups. He however, said the team's report would be based on its own findings.

The group will release its report on December 29 but remain in the country up to mid-January to witness the transition and follow any court petitions.

Meanwhile, ballot papers for presidential, parliamentary and civic elections for Karachuonyo and Kasipul-Kabondo have reached the district in readiness for the polls.

The ballots, which were collected from Nairobi by local election coordinator Ezekiel Akunja, have been stored at the Kosele police station.

Some 639 ballot boxes, received two months ago, are also kept at the same place.

Kasipul-Kabondo constituency has 61,429 registered voters, while Karachuonyo has 50,520.

[Story by Nation]

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