Ballot tender case will delay elections, warns IEBC

The electoral agency on Wednesday warned that a threat by the opposition to go to court to block the printing of ballot papers carried the possibility of shifting the election date set for August 8.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), however, insisted that though such an injunction will “no doubt affect the election date”, the one set in the Constitution will not be changed.

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said that with 46 days to the elections, any attempt to alter the Sh2.5 billion ballot printing tender awarded to Dubai-based Al-Ghurair will not only disrupt its timelines, but also affect its preparedness.

“We wish to remind Kenyans that with 47 days to the General Election, court processes that seek to stop key milestones in the remaining days will no doubt affect election date,”  he said at the commission’s Anniversary Towers offices.

CANCEL TENDER

The commission’s chief executive Ezra Chiloba warned that it was already late to cancel the tender and award it to another firm.

Getting a different firm even through direct procurement, he said, will take not less than two weeks.

READ: IEBC: Ballot printing starts this week

 “Two weeks is already too late. As we speak now, we are already too late. We are trying to recover on lost time,” said Mr Chiloba.

Earlier, Nasa flagbearer Raila Odinga said the opposition will move to court if the tender awarded to the Dubai-based firm was not  cancelled.

KENYATTA FAMILY

Nasa has alleged that Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Ltd has close links with President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family.

The firm is to print about 120 million ballot papers, election results forms and poll registers for the  elections.

Mr Chebukati also strongly refuted claims by the Nasa leader that ballot papers for the presidential elections had already been printed by the firm.

“The printing of ballot papers has not started. We expect it to begin on Friday . However, the printing of ballot papers for presidential elections shall commence around July 18,” he said.

ROW DEEPENS

He warned that talks by the Nasa team and Jubilee Party were a threat to the holding of free, credible and fair elections, and a recipe for chaos.

In his press conference, Mr Odinga repeated claims that the IEBC was pushed by the Jubilee government to award the tender to Al Ghurair.

READ: IEBC faces tough queries on ballot tender to Dubai firm

“IEBC is not acting on their own, but is being pushed by Jubilee to award the tender to Al Ghurair and we will go to court to block it,” he said. He said Nasa was ready for elections but claimed that IEBC was not ready.

CAUSE OF ALARM

“There is no cause of alarm. As Opposition, we are ready for elections and it is IEBC that is delaying us,” he said.

The Nasa chief said the Dubai-based firm is tainted and cannot be awarded the tender.

BISHOPS Ballot tender case will delay elections, warns IEBC

From left: Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops Martin Kivuva, Philip Anyolo and Cornelius Korir during press conference on June 20, 2017 in their offices in Nairobi. They called on the IEBC to stop printing of ballot papers by Dubai based firm Al Ghurair if the elections stakeholders have not reached in a consensus. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

“Even a fool will tell you that there is something fishy about the company and as Nasa, we will not be led to an already flawed process,” said Mr Odinga.

He said Jubilee cannot win in a free and fair election and that is why the President-led party insisted the tender be awarded to Al Ghurair.

BALLOT PAPER TENDER

The tender row deepened on Tuesday after a South African firm that the Jubilee Party had earlier linked to Mr Odinga also denied any ties with the opposition leader.

It termed the claims made by Jubilee diversionary.

READ: Bishops caution IEBC on ballot tender

In the meantime, Catholic bishops changed tune on the ballot paper tender, backing IEBC to proceed with the deal unless challenged through a court of law.

After a meeting with  the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the Hindu Council of Kenya, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops, National Council of Churches of Kenya, National Muslim Leaders Forum, Organisation of African Instituted Churches, Seventh Day Adventist and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Catholic Church endorsed the call to “learn from the past where all matters against the IEBC were handled through legal channels”.

PERSISTENT DELAY

“The persistent delay in resolving the controversy around the procurement of ballot papers is dangerous,” the clerics warned in a statement.

“And unless a party is willing to go to court and secure a directive to the contrary, IEBC should be left to implement the national elections timetable.”

 Reports by Samwel Owino, Patrick Lang’at and Aggrey Mutambo

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