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Nasa, Jubilee in heated exchange over electoral commission’s readiness

While Nasa leaders claimed the 2017 General Election could be bungled due to lack of adequate preparations by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Jubilee Party’s Raphael Tuju countered that their rivals had hatched a plot to derail the polls after sensing defeat.

Nasa and Jubilee were on Thursday involved in a heated exchange over the electoral agency’s readiness to conduct the August election.

Mr Raila Odinga (ODM), Musalia Mudavadi (Amani National Coalition) and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka (Wiper Democratic Movement) accused the IEBC of lack of transparency in managing the preparation for the election, arguing that issues raised in a letter they wrote to the commission were largely ignored.

The three were addressing journalists at Capitol Hill Towers in Nairobi on Thursday.

“We are afraid that the commission is not transparent. It has failed to hold consultations with parties and political stakeholders and it has learnt nothing from the bungled 2013 polls,” said Mr Odinga. Though arguing that Nasa was ready to cooperate with the IEBC in delivering credible polls, Mr Odinga warned that the Opposition will not encourage a process that will lead to another electoral fraud.

“We are ready to go for elections. But we want to go for properly conducted elections,” the former Prime Minister said.

 He said Nasa had raised critical questions with the IEBC, including fears over expiry of server licences for 23 software leased by the commission from foreign vendors.

Reading the Nasa joint statement, Mr Mudavadi said they were committed to working with the IEBC despite their concerns, adding that criticism was not meant to derail the electoral process.

“We, however, remain deeply concerned that the commission remains silent about critical issues we have raised with it in recent weeks regarding its preparedness to conduct free, fair and credible elections in five months’ time,” he said.

He said the coalition had raised concerns over failure by the commission to beat the deadline in the procurement of integrated electronic electoral system – a mandatory utility in the election.

“The systems have not been integrated and with just five months to go, IEBC has not procured, let alone put in place, the technology necessary for the conduct of the General Election.” said Mr Mudavadi.

He also said lack of seriousness in auditing the voter register was worrying.

“As things stand, IEBC has not made any attempt to get accurate and comprehensive information contained in the national population register for the purposes of an audit of the voter register,” said Mr Mudavadi.

The Amani leader also sought clarifications on the relationship of data contained in BVR kits used by the National Youth Service and that of the commission after several persons who claimed they have never registered said they found their names in the register.

Mr Musyoka urged the commission to be decisive, warning that any attempt to be partisan would derail plans for the 2017 polls.

“It is the responsibility of the IEBC to conduct free and fair elections,” said Mr Musyoka, adding that complaints by Nasa should not be misconstrued to mean that the Opposition was not interested in the election.

A PLAN

However, Mr Tuju said Nasa had hatched a plan to derail the 2017 election to avoid a looming electoral defeat.

“It is clear that Nasa wants to prolong the ping-pong game of musical chairs to avoid assured electoral defeat. On Thursday, Jubilee demanded all engagements be formal and bilateral,” said Mr Tuju.

He claimed that Nasa lawyer James Orengo’s recent letter to IEBC stating that the commission was unable to conduct legitimate elections was the latest attack in a string of cynical legal challenges mounted by the Opposition.

He also alleged that Nasa leaders had made a series of allegations designed to weaken public faith in the electoral commission.

“The accusation that there is now no time to conduct a fair election has been carefully planned by the Opposition. Were it to be true, it would be a situation resulting directly from Nasa’s deliberate actions specifically aimed at destabilising every IEBC process to date,” he said.

He said the party would write to the IEBC to call for an urgent meeting of the Electoral Technology Advisory Committee and the Political Parties Liaison Committee to discuss concerns raised by various players.

The commission’s chairman Wafula Chebukati, however, urged politicians to let the commission work, insisting it will deliver.

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