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Electoral commission meets as ICT deadline looms

The electoral commission on Wednesday held a lengthy closed door meeting with a parliamentary team as it grapples with tight deadlines for procurement of technology for the 20I7 election.

According to a law, that became operational on October 4, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission is expected to procure all technology by December 8, eight months to the elections.

Automation of all electoral processes was part of the provisions that are “minimum deliverables” agreed between Cord and Jubilee to make the next elections credible.

An official of the commission, who could not be named as the official is not allowed to discuss the matter, said the team, led by Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba in the meeting with the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, was hoping the necessary amendments to the law would be made to enable it operate effectively.

With little likelihood of the Act being changed, the commission was also expecting the committee, chaired by Ainabkoi MP Samuel Chepkonga, would come up with proposals to “stretch some of the tight provisions without changing the substance of the law”.

“We are hoping that if the law provides that technology be procured within 21 days, we can inform the supplier to do within 30 days without being seen to violate the existing legal provisions,” he said.

ENACTING LAWS

Although the Justice committee is the parliamentary organ tasked with enacting laws for smooth operations of the commissions, its hands are tied regarding the next elections after its role was taken up by a joint select committee.

The commission is to make an announcement on Friday, during which it is set to advertise for the electronic voting materials, in a bid to “set the record straight with the public” that the team was being pushed to failure.

Two laws that also include the Elections Offences Act, which were drafted by the 4 member team led by Siaya Senator James Orengo and Meru Senator Kiraitu Murungi, were to be implemented without change, a position endorsed by President Kenyatta and Cord Leader Raila Odinga, as the two leaders of the leading political coalitions.

Mr Chepkonga, whose own law by the Justice committee was shelved to pave the way for the select team, formed to quell tension in the country following agitation for removal of the current IEBC commissioners, has in the past complained over some of the drastic proposals by the joint team.

The provision that electoral technology including Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits, Electronic Voter Identification Devices (Evids) and electoral transmission materials be in the country eight months to the elections, was to avoid the pitfalls of the 203 elections, in which the materials arrived late, contributing to its failure on Election Day.

However, the IEBC official said the commission was being pushed into making the same mistakes that bungled the 203 polls.

“The only difference was that in 20I3, the delay in procuring electronic voting materials was as a results of the failure by the IEBC to procure them early but this time, it is someone lese pushing the IEBC back to its past failures,” he said.

Electoral commission meets as ICT deadline looms

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