The European Union is about to deploy its “biggest monitoring missions ever” to supervise the upcoming election in Kenya due to the fears that the ethnic clashes during the 2007 election could happen again. The clashes erupted unexpectedly and left up to 1,500 people dead and displaced some 600,000. The mass killings across ethnic and tribal lines lasted for several months.
This time, Brussels will send 100 electoral observers who will spend two months in the African country before and after the 8 August election to ensure that it is stable. Kenya is the EU’s key partner in the Horn of Africa and as such it receives 100 million euros a year in development aid. Kenya hosts around half a million refugees from South Sudan, in the Dabaab and other camps. The north of the country is struggling with extremism originating from Somalia.
Claudia Wiedey, head of the Horn of Africa and East Africa unit at the European External Action Service, said that Kenya was an extremely important country for the EU. “It is stable, it is on the move, it has achieved a lot but it is in an extremely fragile neighborhood.“ The EU’s mission will not end with the this mission, but the EU will be also doing, as Ms. Wiedey explained, “follow-up missions, to support the electoral process, to support civil society organizations.” Riccardo Chelleri, policy officer for Democracy and Electoral Observation at the EEAS, added that “this is the most important [electoral observation mission] of the year for the European Union”.