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Uhuru Kenyatta leads the AU Election Observation Mission in South Africa.

The African Union Commission (AUC) has taken a decisive step to strengthen democracy and safeguard electoral integrity in Africa by appointing former Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta to lead the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) for the forthcoming general elections in South Africa. These elections, set for May 29, 2024, are expected to be among the most competitive in South African history, with 27 million registered voters and more than 50 political parties competing for seats in parliament. The AUEOM, under Kenyatta's leadership, will play a crucial role in monitoring the elections and ensuring they are conducted fairly and transparently.

Composition and Mandate of the AUEOM

Led by Kenyatta, the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) is composed of 60 short-term observers hailing from 24 African nations. This diverse group includes ambassadors, officials who manage elections, representatives from civil society, experts in elections, specialists in human rights, authorities on gender and media, as well as representatives from youth organisations. Additionally, the mission is supported by three Core Team electoral experts who offer specialized knowledge regarding the electoral process.

The AUEOM's fundamental objective is to conduct an unbiased evaluation of the elections' integrity, ensuring compliance with regional, continental, and global benchmarks for democratic elections. The mission's goal is to bolster and validate the electoral process's legitimacy, thereby promoting democratic values and cultivating an environment conducive to peaceful and equitable elections. The AUEOM also aims to provide recommendations for improvement based on their findings, with the ultimate goal of contributing to the strengthening of democratic institutions in the region. Through upholding transparency and accountability, the mission seeks to foster trust in the electoral process and promote sustainable democratic practices.

High-Level Engagements and Preparations

Upon his arrival in South Africa on May 25, 2024, Kenyatta began a series of high-level meetings to evaluate the nation's election preparedness. He convened with the Electoral Commission of South Africa's Commissioners, under the leadership of Chairman Mosotho Moepya, at the Gallagher Convention Centre. The commissioners delivered a detailed briefing on the commission's state of readiness and the steps taken to ensure a seamless, transparent, and credible electoral process.

Additionally, Kenyatta met with Nelson Muffuh, the United Nations' resident coordinator in South Africa, and members of the National Observer Group. These conversations centered on the joint efforts necessary to facilitate the electoral process and maintain democratic principles. Kenya's President Uhuru Kenyatta expressed his confidence in the Commission's preparedness and commitment to upholding democratic values. The discussions also highlighted the importance of international cooperation in promoting free and fair elections.

Observational Activities and Reporting

The African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) is set to engage with a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including state authorities, political parties, media outlets, civil society organizations, and international community representatives. The mission's mandate is to monitor the final stages of the electoral process and the actual polling to ensure adherence to democratic norms and principles.

After the election, the AUEOM plans to issue a preliminary report detailing its findings and recommendations on May 31, 2024. This will be followed by a detailed and comprehensive report, to be released within two months after the final election results are declared. These reports aim to offer insightful analysis and suggestions for enhancing future electoral processes, thereby supporting the reinforcement of democratic governance, peace, and stability in South Africa and the wider region.

Significance of the Mission

The selection of Uhuru Kenyatta to head the African Union Election Observation Mission (AUEOM) highlights the African Union's dedication to fostering good governance, democracy, and human rights throughout the continent. This aligns with the objectives of the AU Agenda 2063, which seeks to uphold justice and the rule of law within its member states. The AUEOM's role is pivotal in providing a fair and comprehensive evaluation of the electoral processes in South Africa, thereby ensuring the elections' transparency, credibility, and integrity.

In summary, Uhuru Kenyatta's leadership role in the AUEOM signifies a collective endorsement of democratic processes and openness throughout Africa. His wealth of experience and steadfast commitment to democratic ideals are anticipated to greatly enhance the legitimacy and success of South Africa's general elections, thus strengthening democratic norms across the continent and promoting a harmonious electoral atmosphere.

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