This report places the 1997 elections in a longer-term historical perspective dating back to independence, with a view to assessing the democratisation process to date. The inter-election period from 1992 to 1997 saw little democratisation until the so-called Inter-Parties Parliamentary Group (IPPG) reforms in late 1997 broke the stalemate between the intransigent government and the articulate opposition, including a vibrant civil society. The IPPG package meant that the political playing field was made considerably more level than it was prior to 1992. The voter registration process was seriously flawed, largely a repeat of the 1992 exercise. Failure by the state to issue national identity cards to eligible voters led to the effective disenfranchisement of an estimated 1.5 to 2.5 million voters. The nomination process was also marred by irregularities and internal party squabbles. The electronic media were heavily biased in favour of the incumbent party and President Moi. Polling day was characterised by a relaxed atmosphere, but late opening of the polls and mix-up of election materials in many constituencies caused tension to rise. There was evidence of extensive exchange of money against votes. The logistical problems and chaotic conditions in some constituencies put the Electoral Commission to the test, which it did not pass. Rather, its lack of professionalism added to the confusion and may have compromised the electoral outcome in a number of constituencies. The count was particularly problematic. The irregularities were so numerous in about a dozen constituencies so as to invalidate the results.

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