NASA wants IEBC bosses out and ballot tender cancelled

NASA leaders Moses Wetang’ula, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu and James Orengo address the press in Nairobi. [Moses Omusula, Standard]


NASA leaders Moses Wetang’ula, Musalia Mudavadi, Charity Ngilu and James Orengo address the press in Nairobi. [Moses Omusula, Standard]

Controversy over ballots for the August elections continued Wednesday as NASA demanded the cancellation of a printing tender to a Dubai firm.

The Opposition also demanded the resignation of Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission CEO Ezra Chiloba and elections operations director Immaculate Kasait, whom they accused of acting in cahoots with State House in procurement of the tender to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC.

In a statement, NASA principals Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula said the tender must be cancelled and the process restarted to ensure free and fair elections.

“Information in our possession indicates that IEBC boss Chiloba and director Kasait were the contacts in the decision to award the tender unprocedurally and illegally to Al Ghurair,” said Mudavadi.

Mudavadi also claimed Chiloba was in a State House meeting which was attended by Al Ghurair chief executive officer Aziz Al Ghurair.

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NASA also claimed the Dubai-based firm has had a long-standing relationship with top Jubilee officials, which might have influenced the award of the tender.

Tug of war

And in a tug of war that is likely to derail preparations for the elections, IEBC said the printing of the ballots was on course.

President Kenyatta also dismissed the claims by the Opposition, saying that Jubilee did not care who printed ballot papers.

Uhuru, who spoke in Busia yesterday accompanied by his deputy William Ruto, said he was ready to face the Opposition and exuded confidence he would win.

And Ruto said: “NASA is not ready for elections. They claim Jubilee is interested in the company awarded the tender to print ballot papers. The tender can awarded to any other company, even if it is Spectre which belongs to Raila Odinga, because it is Kenyans who will decide, not the printer.”

In Nairobi, IEBC commissioner Abdi Guliye defended their decision to award the tender to the Dubai firm, saying it was picked because it was familiar with the Kenyan electoral process having previously worked with the commission.

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“We picked Al Ghurair because they understand our electoral process contrary to what is being said out there,” said Prof Guliye.

Prior to the recent award, Al Ghurair had a two-year contract with the IEBC.

Mudavadi, who is NASA’s national campaign committee chairman, also linked the printer with President Kenyatta’s family.

“We want President Kenyatta to come clean on his and family’s links with the Dubai firm and state his interests in the contract awarded to the firm,” said Mudavadi.

Both Chiloba and Kasait dismissed the allegations by the Opposition leaders.

Through IEBC Communications Manager Andrew Limo, they said they never acted for State House.

“The two have said the allegations are not true,” said Limo.

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On Tuesday, NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga claimed Al Ghurair had hosted top Jubilee officials in Dubai and also in Nairobi where the tender was discussed.

Speaking separately, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said any cancellation of the tender would interfere with the elections schedule.

Jubilee, on its part, declined to be drawn into what it said were sideshows to derail the elections which are barely two months away.

However, party secretary general Raphael Tuju dismissed NASA claims that State House and IEBC officials had colluded to manipulate the process.

“Today as a party, we are compelled to define to Kenyans the 11 times when ODM, CORD, NASA and Raila Odinga, acting together or in different permutations, made serious attempts to derail the 2017 elections,” said Tuju.

He added: “I have seen the statement from NASA dragging the name of the President and his family into the matter of Al Ghurair. Again, just sensational allegations that cannot stand any scrutiny but can grab headlines.”

 “It is not for Jubilee to defend IEBC or the courts, which NASA loves to attack, threaten and intimidate. These institutions can defend themselves and we have seen them do that robustly with some statements by Chief Justice David Maraga,” said Tuju.

Wetang’ula said NASA had raised the matter of the ballots with IEBC, but no action had been taken.

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He wondered why the tender was not awarded to any of the two firms that applied to print the ballots.

Reports indicate that one of the firms, Kenya’s Ellams Products Limited, was ruled out on grounds that printing the papers locally may compromise their security.

Other than Al Ghurair, also under consideration at the time was South African firm Unprint Limited, which is said to have been knocked out on account of links to a top South African politician.

Wetang’ula scoffed at the offer by IEBC to fly representatives of the presidential and media to witness and confirm the printing in Dubai.

Said the senator: “What stops the firm (Al Ghurair) from printing more ballot papers once we have left? IEBC should not take Kenyans for fools,” said Wetang’ula.

In a bid to resolve the matter and build confidence, the electoral body announced that it will this morning meet all presidential candidates.

Political rhetoric

It was at the same press conference that IEBC announced the offer to fly representatives of presidential candidates, media, religious organisations and private sector to accompany them to Dubai to witness the printing of the ballot papers.

Defending the commission, Chebukati and Chiloba accused Raila of engaging in political rhetoric that could undermine the electoral process.

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Chebukati said the Opposition had failed to raise the latest concerns at a meeting which was also attended by Jubilee on May 24.

And defending himself against claims that he visited State House to meet Al Ghurair representatives, Chiloba said: “You should first ask yourself whether I was in State House… before you can ask whether I was given instructions by anyone. I mean the claims are what I call political gossip.”

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