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IEBC submits polls regulations for approval

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati with Ezra Chiloba (right)

The Independent, Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has finally unveiled regulations that will operationalise the Elections Law.

Commission chairman Wafula Chebukati has sent the Elections (Technology) Regulations, 2017 to the National Assembly for approval.

The regulations not only seek to address the thorny issue of use technological failures, but the role of IEBC in party primaries, voter education and access to information.

The guidelines provide for establishment of a web portal for public inspection of the voter register, the audit of the voter registry, operational aspects of the transmission of results among others.

“The purpose of the regulations is to establish a regulatory framework governing the use of election technology, pursuant to section 44 of the Election Act. This include assessment, acquisition, testing, deployment, security and sustainability of the election technology,” reads the regulations.

The commission shall publish on its official website details of any telecommunication network service providers to be used, as stipulated in the Election Law, 2016.

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IEBC prepares all political players that in the event of technological failures, they may suspend or terminate the election technology if reliability of the system cannot be assured.

“…In case of suspension or termination of the technology, IEBC shall immediately notify the public and stakeholders as measures are put in place to restart the system,” reads part of the regulations.

But smelling mischief in this new development, an MP allied to the Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has warned that the Opposition would oppose it in the House.

“This is a blanket cheque to the commission. It means it is planning to revert to the manual election process. The election technology is supposed to be used 100 per cent,” said Ugunja MP Opiyo Wandayi.

Wandayi, the ODM Political Affairs Secretary added, “We are going to reject this provision. Political parties must be notified of the failures and an agreement reached before the commission can suspend or terminate the process.”

Sanity of processes

The commission also seeks to provide procedure of submission of party membership lists to ensure sanity of the political processes.

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These new developments are coming at a time pressure is mounting on the Commission to guarantee free and fair polls in August General Elections.

IEBC has come under sharp criticism from the Opposition, over claims it is planning to revert to manual voter exercise being a proponent of the new Election Law, 2017 that introduced the controversial Section 44 (a) without consulting all players.

But the Commission has reaffirmed its commitment to its mandate to ensure elections are free and fair. On the contentious issue of audit, the commission indicates that it will conduct regular audits of the election technology use to guarantee data integrity.

“It will have internal controls. The audit may be done by the commission or by a professional reputable body, at our request and an audit report be prepared and published,” said Chebukati.

The Commission’s guidelines are similar with Opposition’s stand that the audit of the voter register must be undertaken by a reputable global firm. The commission’s audit revealed that there were two million ‘ghosts’ voters that should be truck off the voter register.

If Parliament approves the guidelines, parties will conduct their primaries as per the Elections (Party Primaries and Party Lists) Regulations, 2017.

The constitution requires IEBC to regulate the process by which parties nominate candidates for elections. These regulars are intended to provide for the conduct of party primaries and preparing of political party lists,” he said.

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This in essence means IEBC will not conduct primaries but will provide for guidelines for preparation of party nomination rules and procedures, nomination code of conduct and the communication such information to party members.

Jubilee Party had requested the Commission to conduct and supervise the nominations, but with this new direction it is clear it’s role can only be supervisory.

“For avoidance of doubt, the commission’s role in the primaries shall be limited to supervision, conduct and announcement and declaration of results. It shall not participate in the preparation of party list, save as authorised under the law,” he clarified.

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