SP Senator to be Observer at Kenyan Election

19 December 2007

SP Senator to be Observer at Kenyan Election

SP Senator Eric Smaling will be in Kenya from 20th to 31st December as an official observer at the country's presidential and parliamentary elections. He will visit the Kenyan capital Nairobi and the town of Kisii in the south-west, where he once lived and worked.

Eric SmalingSenator Smaling will act as a ‘short-term’ observer in Kenya, where people go to the polls on 27th December. In 2002, Mwai Kibaki was elected to succeed President Daniel Arap Moi. Five years on, Kenya has impressive economic growth figures yet continues to suffer extensive extreme poverty and excessive population increase.

The European Union has had longer-term staff in place since November. On 20th December the observers who will exercise direct supervision of the elections themselves arrive, and after two days of briefing in Nairobi they will be dispatched to every area of the country. Smaling has been posted to the heavily-populated area of Kisii, to the south of Lake Victoria, where he has in the past lived and worked, giving him some knowledge of the population's customs and way of life.

President Kibaki (a Kikuyu from the country's most extensive tribal group, who live around Mount Kenya), is closing fast on opposition leader Raila Odinga, the son of the man who was once the most significant opponent of the father of the country, Jomo Kenyatta. Odinga is a Luo, also a major population group, concentrated around Lake Victoriameer. The Luos believe that after three presidents from other tribal groups, it's their turn.

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