The Commonwealth Secretary-General, Patricia Scotland, continues to monitor developments in Kenya following general elections held on 8 August 2017 to elect a President and Members of Parliament. These elections were observed by the Commonwealth.
The opposition National Super Alliance political coalition (NASA) brought a case which resulted in the presidential election being annulled by the Supreme Court. A fresh presidential election was held on 26 October 2017, which was also observed by the Commonwealth. The incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, won this fresh presidential election and was sworn into office on 28 November 2017.
The staging of a ‘swearing-in’ of a ‘people’s president’ on 30 January 2018 appears to be an attempt to undermine the rule of law, which is a fundamental value of the Commonwealth Charter and is also safeguarded by the Constitution of Kenya.
Non-compliance with a High Court order relating to enforced closure of media houses also compromises the values of the Commonwealth Charter, which in an article headed ‘Freedom of Expression’ declares: ‘We are committed to peaceful, open dialogue and the free flow of information, including through a free and responsible media, and to enhancing democratic traditions and strengthening democratic processes.’
The Secretary-General commends the subsequent decision by government to restore transmission rights to two television stations that had been shut down, and hopes that very soon there will be full compliance with the High Court order.
Secretary-General Scotland urges the government, opposition, media, civil society, citizens and all stakeholders to place the national interest and commitment to Commonwealth values and principles above party affiliation and all other considerations. She encourages all to engage in peaceful dialogue that will move Kenya forward in ways that are compatible with the Constitution.
Recognising Kenya as a longstanding and valued member, the Secretary-General reaffirmed the collective willingness of the Commonwealth to provide support in any way that may be required.