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Court stops tender award to KPMG for voters register audit

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Thursday was stopped from awarding a tender to audit firm KPMG for the review of voters register.

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) had gone to court challenging the decision to award KPMG the tender.

High Court judge George Odunga issued the order stopping the electoral agency from advertising an open KPMG tender for the audit of the voter register as per the amended election laws.

Even though IEBC had already put that information on its website on December 19, Justice Odunga ordered that the decision about the implementation of the tender award remains suspended pending the hearing and determination of the case.

“The leave so granted do operate to stay decisions of IEBC to advertise an open international tender No. IEBC/32/2016-2017 contained in an advert for tender No. IEBC/EO1/05/2016-2017 for audit of voters Register, verifying it, recommending mechanisms of enhancing it as well as updating it and the decision to award KPMG,” the judge said.

Cord had moved to court to challenge the tender award to KPMG on December 16 after defeating 12 other companies in the bid to scrutinise 15.85 million listed voters.

Through lawyer Antonny Olouch, Cord sued the IEBC claiming that the tender award did not involve a professional and reputable firm to conduct an audit.

Mr Oluoch told the judge that no stakeholders including political parties were involved and that Parliament had not yet amended election laws to allow audit of the voter register.

He argued that there was no technical committee prior to the start of the audit yet the law requires that one must be in place after being approved by Parliament.

“The ultimate objectives of the audit as set out under section 8A of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act is to verify the accuracy of the register and update it, this objective cannot be realised in the absence of an agreed methodology,” Mr Oluoch said.

He further told court that during the Cord leader Raila Odinga’s petition to the Supreme Court after the last elections, IEBC presented different versions of the register of voters from what was gazetted before the polls.

He therefore argued that the current intended audit of the register of voters is shrouded in secrecy and lack of accountability since no known criteria for it has been disclosed to ensure the objectives set out in law are realised.

He also alleged that the firm awarded the tender has no known experience of a similar task anywhere else in the world, hence there is no guarantee it is capable of the task ahead.

The audit is meant to authenticate genuine voters in the register by weeding out ghost voters who may include names of the dead, the underage and double registration.

“The elections of August 7, 2017 largely depends on the authenticity of the voter register and the award as well as process of the audit, if it’s not done in accordance with the Election Laws (Amendment), Act No. 36 of 2016, Kenyans will be prejudiced,” he added.

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