Nasa demos fail to slow down IEBC’s poll preparations

The electoral commission was Friday powering ahead with its plans to hold the October 26 presidential election despite the obstacles standing in the way.

In the UK, Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga said that he would not need to sign any form to withdraw from the poll ordered by the Supreme Court.

In Nairobi, however, President Uhuru Kenyatta on Friday approved a Supplementary Budget that has allocated Sh12 billion for the election slated for October 26, just 11 days away.

PEACE

However, Kenya is still not out of the woods yet and it is not certain that the election will indeed be held, and if so whether it will meet the standards set by the Supreme Court.

Already, wananchi interviewed by the Saturday Nation are apprehensive.

They are not sure if the outcome of the election will be acceptable to all parties.

Some want political leaders to meet before the election to ensure that the country remains peaceful and united even after October 26.

VIOLENCE
They spoke against a background of Opposition demonstrations in Mombasa, Nairobi, Kisumu, Homa Bay and Kakamega counties on Friday where three people were shot dead by police in Bondo.

Four others were admitted at the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga Referral Hospital in Kisumu with gunshot wounds, a sign of the escalating violence that continues to mar the Opposition protests.

In Nairobi, Siaya Senator James Orengo accused Fred Matiang’i, the acting CS for the Interior, of subverting the will of the people to peacefully demonstrate.

BUSINESS

Dr Matiang’i on Thursday said protests will not be allowed in the central business districts of Nairobi, Mombasa and Kisumu.

“Whenever demonstrations are called, it is the responsibility of the police to provide security and bar criminals from taking advantage of the situation.

“Those responsible for destroying businesses were not Nasa supporters but criminal elements,” Mr Orengo said.

The Opposition has vowed to ensure that there will be no election on October 26.

IEBC

However, Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the electoral commission, on Friday gazetted all the 290 constituency returning officers and laid out an elaborate plan for the transmission of the election results.

The move was the clearest signal yet that the election date remains unchanged and that IEBC is determined to hold an election that day.

Even as it made this preparations, one of the fringe candidates, Ekuru Aukot, who held a meeting with the commission’s officials in Nairobi on Friday, said that only he should be included in the ballot alongside President Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

He is opposed to the inclusion of the five other candidates who were on the ballot on August 8.

The five, together with Dr Aukot, got less than one per cent of the vote in the election annulled by the Supreme Court.

CREDIBLE
Dr Aukot also added that he will make his final position known once he has reviewed the documents he received by the commission showing what changes it had put in place to make the repeat election free, fair, simple and verifiable.

But his request was not accepted by the commission, which allowed him, Mr Abduba Dida, Mr Joseph Nyagah, Mr Michael Wainaina and Mr Japheth Kavinga to participate in the poll.

ELECTION LAW

That the ground will shift ahead of the election became evident when President Kenyatta said he had received the controversial Election Laws Amendment Bill from Parliament and the Election Offences Bill and that he was studying them before signing them into law.

The President is expected to sign the two Bills at any time now.

“Parliament has now done its duty and passed the legislation. I can confirm that I have received it now. It is my duty to consider it, and then sign it,” Mr Kenyatta said Friday.

The changes in the electoral laws have been criticised by the Opposition National Super Alliance as self-serving. 

RAILA OUT
The passing of the laws comes against the backdrop of a political storm sparked by the Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s decision to pull out of the October 26 race.

Mr Odinga has given a caveat that he is expecting the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to set a new date.

Mr Odinga has called for daily protests against the IEBC starting from Monday.

He has accused the commission of manipulating results of the August 8 election to the advantage of President Kenyatta, who was declared the winner with a margin of over 1.4 million votes.

NEW MEASURES
As part of the changes that IEBC has put in place ahead of the next election is a fresh results transmission procedure.

All the 290 Constituency Returning Officers will have to take the physical results to the national tallying centre in Nairobi before Mr Chebukati can declare the winner of the fresh poll.

Mr Chebukati will also have to physically verify all the 40,883 Forms 34A at the national tallying centre before declaring the final result.

He and all the other returning officers will also be reading out every result they get at every polling station and tallying centre at all levels. 

CAUTION
The notice in the Kenya Gazette that Mr Chebukati published on Friday details the painstaking process, which if adhered to, will mean that the commission could take longer than it did in August, when the result was announced three days after voting.

“We have seven days to announce the results and we will take our time. We shall not be rushed.

“None of our returning officers will be rushed. They will make that announcement only after they have accurately verified all the results,” IEBC commissioner Roselyn Akombe said at a meeting with observers Friday.

POLL OFFICIALS
She said the commission was resolute and keen to ensure that it does not suffer the embarrassment of having results annulled again.

Broadly, the electoral agency has developed 10 changes to right the wrongs identified by the Supreme Court when it annulled the August 8 presidential poll.

“We have vowed zero tolerance to non-compliance. That is why we have, for instance, dropped over 200 presiding officers who made errors in the previous election.

“We have also dropped some returning officers after vetting,” Dr Akombe said.

NETWORK
The commission has also resolved to have all the 40,883 elections kits fitted with a Safaricom sim-card owing to the mobile phone company’s near-full coverage of the country.

This is expected to enhance results transmission.

Dr Akombe also insisted that the IEBC will stick to its partnership with Safaricom despite Mr Odinga’s questions on the firm’s role in the annulled poll.

“We would be lying if we told you that we will not use Safaricom. We do not have any other service provider in Kenya with a larger network coverage,” she said.

Also the fresh poll ballot papers containing all the eight candidates will be printed starting at the end of this week by Dubai-based Al-Ghurair, another firm that Mr Odinga wants dropped.

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