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Case challenging acquisition of IEBC poll devices dismissed

, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 19 – The High Court has thrown out a petition filed by human rights activists Maina Kiai, Khelef Khalifa and Tirop Kitur challenging the manner in which the electoral agency acquired the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) devices.

The three argued in their petition that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) failed to meet standards set in law which include simplicity, accuracy, security, accountability and transparency of election technology.

Further, they challenged the sourcing of the technology from abroad, asserting that IEBC “may have inadvertently imported into the country equipment that may not be suitable for the purpose and to facilitate the right to free and fair elections” given the exemption of the gadgets from verification in accordance to Kenya Bureau of Standards (KEBS) procedures.

Kiai, Khalifa and Kitur argued that a waiver of pre-export verification secured by the Commission notwithstanding, key regulations in the Standard Act and provisions of Legal Notice number 78 of July 15, 2005 on Verification of Conformity to Standards of Import Order ought to have been adhered to.

Justice John Mativo stated in his ruling Wednesday that IEBC’s technical committee worked in consultation with relevant agencies to ensure the devices were procured in conformity with relevant laws.

“In the absence of cogent evidence to the contrary, and considering the nature of the matter, logistical constraints and time constraints, I find IEBC has demonstrated that there was some form of public participation sufficient to satisfy the requirements of public participation,” ruled Justice Mativo.

According to Justice Mativo, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba proved beyond reasonable doubt in an affidavit filed on June 21 that a technical committee set up by the Commission bringing together representatives of State and non-State professional bodies addressed pertinent issues touching on specification of the KIEMS gadgets and even public participation.

Chiloba’s affidavit indicated that the IEBC among other things considered the requirement that an integrated electronic system needs to be in place eight months to the elections, which was later amended in December 2016, the new laws reducing the period to four months.

Chiloba also submitted that a committee appointed on April 28 conducted an inspection of the KIEMS kits and subsequently issued a certificate of compliance on May 8.

KEBS is also said to have inspected power banks, mobile batteries chargers and tablets to satisfy their compliance to standards.

The case comes a day before the Court of Appeal determines a challenge to a High Court ruling mounted by the IEBC, seeking to review of an order directing the commission to tender afresh the printing of ballots for the presidential election.

IEBC however continues to battle numerous cases including one seeking publication of the voter register by the Africa Centre for Open Governance Executive Director, Gladwell Otieno on Tuesday.

The National Super Alliance also moved to court Tuesday seeking orders to have the electoral commission compelled to establish an electronic back up to identify voters on polling day or have the election postponed in the event that an electronic back up is not made available.

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