Fear of fraud compelled Jubilee to seek IEBC help in conducting nominations

Dr Shaban said that since Jubilee Party made the announcement, politicians were split down the middle, with aspiring candidates celebrating and sitting MPs and other officebearers going mute.

In an interview to discuss the implication of the decision, Dr Shaban said those critical of it had missed the point.

Fear of fraud in party primaries compelled Jubilee Party to ask the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to help it conduct the elections.

Jubilee Deputy Majority Leader in the National Assembly Naomi Shaban said experience in Kenya had shown parties are incapable of conducting free and fair nominations, especially in their own strongholds.

“All politicians in office and aspiring candidates across the parties are not sitting pretty. In 2013 they feared fraud, but they dread transparency in 2017 because we have invited the IEBC. Jubilee has taken this bold step because the President has said there is no going back to the chaotic past — there are no sacred cows. I am convinced if we get it right, others will also demand it,” she told the Nation.

“Party nominations in Kenya are so critical that individual politicians will do anything to win. In the event fraud happens, it impacts on security, law and order. This is because depending on what party is popular in an area, and whose stronghold it is, securing the nomination certificate almost always leads to assured victory at the ballot,” she said.

CHAOTIC NOMINATIONS

The Kriegler report on the 2007/2008 post-election violence also attributed chaotic and fraudulent nominations to the violence and resentment against the electoral process.

Dr Shaban said party primaries had become a major security headache for government, and a huge challenge for main parties and their leadership.

She said no one had a sure answer on how parties should conduct free and fair nominations on their own especially in the strongholds of major party leaders.

“Every major politician and party has strongholds. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto are no different. Cord leaders Raila Odinga and Kalonzo Musyoka, too, have stongholds where it is impossible for parties to conduct free and fair primaries. Any politician opposed to IEBC being called in to help us is not being honest” she said.

She cited documented incidents of direct nominations of certain individuals in certain party strongholds, saying only those who wished to continue enjoying “doctored nomination results” would dread independent supervision and transparency.

In her own TNA party, which has since dissolved to join Jubilee, she cited Othaya MP Mary Wambui who in 2013 had to fight tooth and nail to secure her nomination certificate which had been withheld by the party, although she had convincingly beaten her rival, Mr Gichuki Mugambi, during the party nominations in 2013.

TO RESOLVE

Dr Shaban further said President Kenyatta and his deputy had decided to resolve complicated political situations using outsourced capacity and skills.

About whether the IEBC had the capacity and the time to conduct party primaries and prepare the country for the General Election next year, Dr Shaban said the law allowed IEBC to outsource consultants and hire other skills it may need.

“We understand people are concerned about free and fair nominations especially in Jubilee strongholds. In 2005, Kanu found it difficult to conduct free and fair elections because former ministers Nicholas Biwott and Julius Sunkuli used Narc government to interfere with the process. But the party outsourced a private consultant who did the job, and shielded the process from interference” she said.

Since the Jubilee Party released a list of regional presidential campaign coordinators two weeks ago, there has been a hue and cry about the team not being inclusive enough.

The list had also been faulted for seemingly giving a select raft of elected politicians an advantage over others, especially aspirants seeking to unseat them.

However, a newly released Guidelines for the Formation of County Presidential (re-election) Campaign Teams has no special zones for either former main partners TNA or URP, and has also expanded a list earlier released at the Bomas of Kenya to 20 members.

A highly placed source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the teams are also expected to play a role in establishment of county election boards and setting up of nomination and election rules, “with their own representatives to build confidence and reassure that all the processes will be free and air”.

ELECTED MPs

The new members of the county presidential re-election campaign teams, according to the guidelines released on Tuesday last week, include all elected MPs, governors and deputy governors, chairpersons of all merged parties, majority and minority party leaders of Jubilee allied-parties, youth and women leaders and persons with disabilities.

A caveat for aspiring candidates wishing to be included reads: “Aspiring candidates had to register with the party through the party headquarters first before inclusion in the county campaign teams.”

Jubilee is yet to activate country recruitment centres currently under establishment.

Enquiries by the Nation indicated that only 183,000 members had taken out Jubilee membership as of Thursday last week, but many big names that had declared interest to run for various offices on the party ticket had not yet registered.

Among reasons for hesitation included the uncertainty around the date of election and the fact that nomination rules are yet to be made public.

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