NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses residents of Naivasha yesterday at a rally in Kamere estate. [Antony Gitonga, Standard]
National Super Alliance presidential flag bearer Raila Odinga has said he will move to court over the ballot tender, just two days before a Dubai-based company starts to print the papers.
Raila has claimed that Al Ghurair, the firm that has been contracted to print the papers, has links to President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family and wants to block use of ballots from the company in the forthcoming elections.
Yesterday, the Opposition leader further claimed that the presidential ballots had already been printed in favour of Jubilee.
With the threat coming only 46 days to the August 8 elections, the elections agency is worried that if Raila makes true his threat, the election timelines may be affected.
This because of time constraints and logistical issues such as the fact that 120 million pieces of ballot papers have to be printed in sequence, according to the regions where they will be required.
This would mean that time has to be sufficient for printing and packaging, according to the electoral areas they will be sent to.
Raila, whose team distrusts the firm because of the claims he has made over the award of the Sh2.5 billion tender, is determined to go to court.
“I have instructed my lawyers to move to court to stop the printing of ballot papers. We have raised this matter before but the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is hell-bent on moving forward with its plans under the instructions of Jubilee,” Raila said.
He said the courts had objected to Al Ghurair printing the ballot papers but “IEBC deliberately delayed so that they could go for direct procurement”.
“This firm is closely associated with State House. We have information that presidential ballot papers have already been printed,” Raila said.
However last evening, IEBC convened a press conference to dismiss Raila’s claims, terming them misleading.
“For avoidance of doubt, the printing of ballot papers has not started. We expect it to commence from Friday, June 23, 2017. However, the printing of ballots for presidential elections will start on July 18, 2017,” IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati explained.
Raila spoke yesterday when he launched the ‘Adopt a Polling Station’ strategy, which NASA says aims to guard NASA’s votes during elections.
If the Opposition files the case in court today, there is no guarantee that the matter will be heard and determined tomorrow. Monday is Idd ul Fitr holiday.
Should NASA make good its threat to go to court and have the matter ruled in its favour, IEBC may be forced to start the process of tendering afresh, which may adversely affect the set time lines.
But again pushing ahead with the printing against the credibility issues that NASA has raised may also cast a dark shadow on the coming election.
This dark pall would be more so considering that the 2007 and 2013 elections was characterised by disputes.
There are also matters pending in court such as an appeal filed by IEBC to try to overturn a high court ruling that election results announced at the constituency level should be final and be used to determine winners in the elections.
Yesterday, IEBC expressed fears that should NASA petition the contract and the courts entertain them, the move would leave the election time lines in total disarray.
“We are also aware that any Kenyan has the constitutional right to seek redress from the courts in matters where they feel aggrieved. However, we wish to remind Kenyans that with 47 days (yesterday) to the general election, court processes that seek to stop key milestones in the remaining days will no doubt affect the election date,” Mr Chebukati warned.
Ezra Chiloba, IEBC’s chief executive officer, said IEBC was facing a hard time meeting its deadlines in the printing of the six sets of ballot papers.