Electoral agency on the spot over election readiness

Ballot papers for the General Election, which is only 19 days away, have arrived in the country.

The consignment came from Dubai, even as the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission came under pressure to demonstrate that it has sufficiently tested the equipment.

The ballot papers for five elective positions excluding those to be used in the presidential election arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport, Nairobi, at 6pm and were received by top IEBC officials.

The papers will be cleared and taken to the commission’s warehouses, awaiting distribution to the counties.

DISPUTE

A dispute over the tender for printing the presidential ballot papers is awaiting determination by the Court of Appeal on Thursday.

Printing for the papers ought to have started on Tuesday, according to the commission’s timetable.

READ: Focus on five judges in ballot papers case

The National Super Alliance has objected to the papers being printed by Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing, claiming it the company is close to the First Family.

EZRA Electoral agency on the spot over election readiness

IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba (centre) addressing the media at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport when he received a consignment of ballot papers from Dubai on July 18, 2017. PHOTO | WALTER MENYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Ballot papers for governor, senator, member of the national assembly, woman representative and ward representative were not disputed and were therefore unaffected by the High Court ruling, which stopped the printing of the presidential papers on the basis that the tender was awarded to Al Ghurair without public participation.

NOT PRACTICAL

IEBC has since appealed the ruling on grounds that the court’s directive was not practical, more so with the limited time left until the August 8 election day.

On Tuesday, IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba said  the commission would this week publish the voter register for public inspection but with truncated information regarding ID numbers and voters’ images for privacy reasons.

READ: Elections will be held as planned, IEBC says

On the presidential ballot papers crisis, Mr Chiloba said the commission is considering direct procurement should the Court of Appeal not rule in its favour.

IEBC was directed to come up with a mechanism for public participation even as the firm prints the ballot papers for the other elective seats.

PROCUREMENT

“There are conditions that justify that process. We have explored options and we have a basis as to where we could go when it comes to direct procurement.

We can justify the identification of a company,” he said. “We are already thinking ahead of the Court of Appeal ruling.

In the real sense, we are not waiting for the Court of Appeal decision.

This is the first time in public procurement that public participation is being demanded of public entities.

It’s an experiment on the wrong specimen, the IEBC, a few days to the election.”

LOBBIES

Earlier in the day, civil society lobbies went to court seeking to compel the commission to make public the register of electors for every polling station in the country.

GLADI Electoral agency on the spot over election readiness

Africa Centre for Open Governance Executive Director Gladwell Otieno with International Commission of Jurists boss Samwel Mohochi during a public forum to assess Kenya’s preparedness for the upcoming General Election held on July 18, at the Nairobi Safari Club. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP

The Africa Centre for Open Governance (Africog) director Gladwell Otieno sued the IEBC, seeking orders that it be compelled to take into consideration submissions by concerned persons as required by law and revise the register.  In her case documents, she claims that failure to do so threatens the right to a free, fair and democratic election.

“It is in the interest of justice that the present case be expeditiously heard so as to enable the people of Kenya to have an electoral process that is transparent and is administered in an impartial, accurate as well as accountable manner,” said Ms Otieno, adding that the Elections Act and the elections voter registration regulations require IEBC to publish and open up the register of voters within 90 days to the date of a general election for public inspection.

GLADWELL OTIENO

“I have a legitimate expectation that the IEBC shall, at all times, be guided by the law and enforce all provisions of the laws as enacted to guide it in the implementation of its activities as well as programmes,” said Ms Otieno.

The IEBC has so far opened the register of voters for the verification of voter details.

Meanwhile in its latest report, the lobby says IEBC is not ready to conduct the polls.

It says IEBC is time-barred and should move quickly to resolve issues touching on the presidential ballot papers, voter register, electronic relaying of results and efficiency of electronic voting kits.

The report released yesterday in Nairobi was prepared in conjunction with Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ).

SYSTEM FAILURE

The two lobbies want the testing to include simulations of what will happen if the systems fails.

IEBC was supposed to have published the voters’ register 30 days before the election.

READ: Nasa wants IEBC to postpone polls if system fails on August 8

Nasa has also moved to court over the matter, accusing IEBC of failing to ensure there is complementary technology to act as a backup during the elections as required by the law

However, Mr Chiloba said that the 45,000 Kiems (Kenya Integrated Election Management System) kits were tested  and registered a 98.8 per cent accuracy rate.

ELECTRONIC TRANSFER

To ensure the smooth electronic transfer of results, the commission is working closely with three mobile network providers to expand their network, while satellite technology will be used in remote areas that are not covered by the telecommunication firms.

“We have mapped close to 92 per cent of the country. This will ensure that all results are transmitted electronically. In the likely event there is network outage, we will move to a place that is covered to relay the results,” said Mr Chiloba.

Reports by Walter Menya,  Kennedy Kimanthi and Maureen Kakah

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