Reuters: “Foreign observers praise Kenyan election”

In the dark, all beans are unsortable into light and dark.

She knows there’s no success like failure
And that failure’s no success at all


Following the 2005 Ethiopian elections the Carter Center’s and the European Union’s electoral observation reports became highly politicized. In the post election period, the two organizations came to different conclusions in regards to the validity of the electoral process. At the core of these differences were the organizations’ differing conceptions of what constitutes free and fair electoral practices. In the post election period the European Union’s and Carter Center’s reports have been pitted against one and other as those concerned with the election results seek to make sense of the reports. –Lucilia Pereira, “Free and Fair: The Politicization of Election Monitoring Reports,” Thesis, U. Saskatchewan, Oct. 2006.

Reuters aims to report the facts, not rumours. Clients rely on us to differentiate between fact and rumour, and our reputation rests partly on that. –”A handbook of Reuters journalism”

Reuters Africa serves up gabbling half-truths in the service of a fairy tale about consensus among international elections observers in Kenya:

International observers praised Kenya’s presidential and parliamentary elections as broadly transparent and peaceful on Friday, despite fears that such a close race would encourage rigging and large-scale violence.

Close race? The New York Times cited results showing the challenger leading by some 20 points. See

Large-scale violence currently dominates the headlines after accusations of election-rigging.

Which some elections observers say are credible, while others say they are not.

Reuters reports that fears have not been realized.

Shortly thereafter, those fears are realized.

Your global risk management console seems to have a track record for the Fallacy of Wishful Thinking.

Bear that in mind as you contemplate its optimism over EU regulatory approval for the Thomson merger.

The British government has expressed serious doubts about the validity of the election, while the EU observer mission appears to be calling the election, using diplomatic phraseology, a massive failure.

Citing observed incidents in which the local precinct reports x votes for Quimby and the ECK then “reads off its computer screen” — donated by USAID — that the local precinct is reporting x+5,000 votes for Quimby.

Where x≠(x+5,000).


But here Reuters is, blithely promoting the fairy-tale of unanimity among the dueling election observers, whose recommendations and evaluations in fact diverge sharply.

The US Dept. of State, for example, recommends that everyone accept the results announced by the ECK, whose integrity it vouches for. According to an article in The Nation.

The US government released another statement from New York, urging Kenyans to accept the final election results calmly, saying it had “great confidence” in the ECK and its chairman, Samuel Kivuitu.The Nation (Nairobi)

The rooters from Reuters:

Monitors from the European Union, a group of countries from Africa’s Great Lakes region and the U.S.-based International Republican Institute all praised the conduct of Thursday’s vote.

As far as I know, the observers from the Great Lakes Group cited were actually part of the IRI mission. That is, there were not three observer contingents here, as you might be led to infer, but two:

RI’s delegation was led by Constance Berry Newman, IRI board member and former Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs. Other delegates are Hussein Ahmed Aideed, Member of the Executive Committee of Somaliland’s Party for Unity and Development and Member of the National Registration Committee; Joel Barkan, Professor Emeritus of Political Science at the University of Iowa; Omer Jama Farah, Member of the Executive Committee and Political Officer of Somaliland’s Union Democratic Party and a Member of the National Registration Committee; Irena Hadziabdic, Member of Central Election Commission of Bosnia and Herzegovina; Maureen Harrington, former IRI Program Manager for Southern Africa; Abdillah Said Ismael, Member of the Executive Committee of Somaliland’s Justice and Welfare Party and a Member of the National Registrarion Committee; Anne Itto, Deputy Secretary General for the Southern Sector of the Sudan Peoples’ Liberation Party (SPLM); Simon Kun, Member of the Interim Political National Bureau of the SPLM and head of the South Sudan Humanitarian Relief Commission; Sylvestre Somo Mwaka, human rights activist and assistant to the President of the Independent Electoral Commission in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo; Ronald Nehring, Chairman of the California Republican Party; Ambassador Lange Schermerhorn, former U.S. Ambassador to Djibouti; Brad Smith, Chief of Staff to Congressman David Dreier; and Bushara Hussan El Tali, Deputy Secretary for Training and Capacity Building of the Sudanese Liberation Movement.

Lange Schermerhorn is also a director of the Worldwater & Solar Technologies Corporation.

She is an alumna of the Harvard Business School and the National War College.

Resolved: An election that goes smoothly deserves praise.

Elections consist, roughly speaking, of two parts:

  1. collecting the vote, and
  2. counting the vote accurately

Collecting the vote (1) went smoothly.

Counting it (2) was a beancounting disaster.

Therefore, the election deserves praise.

Resolved: You should pay me $10 if I

  1. make diligent preparations to mow your lawn and
  2. actually do mow it.

I do (1) make diligent preparations to mow your lawn, but I then (2) blow it off to go get drunk.

You should pay me $10. Or my friend Vinny here (played by Sylvester Stallone) will kick your ass.
You saw a similar narrative promoted after the elections in 2006 in Mexico, where the (1) vote-collecting went fairly smoothly but (2) the vote-counting turned into a beancounting disaster — presided over by a technology contractor, Hildebrando, owned by the brother-in-law of one of the candidates (the “winning” one) and hired on a no-bid basis.

The Mexican Congress later fired the head of the federal elections commission. There was division over the question of whether (1) absolute ineptitude or (2) connivance with massive fraud was the cause of dismissal, but a broad consensus that those elections degenerated into a nightmare of David “Fear and Misiformation Abound” Sasaki-style fear, uncertainty and doubt.

One of these days we are going to have to start extraditing these IRI-NED people to serve jail time in the Third World hellholes where they have practiced this sort of nonsense.

Opposition challenger Raila Odinga had repeatedly accused President Mwai Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU) of planning to rig the votes, and warned that east [sic] Africa’s biggest economic power could descend into bloodshed if his supporters were cheated.

Warned, or threatened? What did Odinga say on this point? Is he responsible for the violence, as Kibaki supporters are now claiming?

Reuters has a track record of getting in the middle of this sort of gabbling information warfare.

The Ukrainian elections of 2004 aside — still studying — see also

Retuers claims it works hard to avoid this sort of thing. See


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