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Political parties blame IEBC over voter registration

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati during an interview at his Anniversary Towers office in Nairobi. [PHOTO: BONIFACE OKENDO/STANDARD]

Political parties have demanded greater say in electoral processes such as procurement of poll equipment and clean-up of voter register.

Through their representatives, the parties expressed their concerns during a closed-door meeting with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials led by chairman Wafula Chebukati in Nairobi yesterday.

Sources said the parties, meeting under the banner of Political Parties Liaison Committee (PPLC), were categorical that the electoral agency must consult them in all activities in the lead-up to the elections.

“Our position, and which position is also backed by law, is that the IEBC can only dialogue with PPLC in all matters relating to elections. On matters of general policy, they are at liberty to meet other political party representatives,“ said PPLC Chairman Philip Obonyo.

According to the PPLC, the Chebukati-led commission also failed to consult political parties on the ongoing voter registration.

“IEBC made the first mistake when it used NGOs to sensitise voters on the need to register. NGOs lack the ground to convince voters on this noble task. PPLC ought to have been involved to mobilise potential voters since they have the network at the grassroots level,” said Obonyo.

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Earlier, the meeting was delayed following a dispute over some of those in attendance as it emerged they were representing parties that had been dissolved.

IEBC Secretary Ezra Chiloba invited the representatives of registered political parties to be taken through the findings of the ongoing mass voter registration and other electoral-related matters.

Yesterday, the commission was forced to push the press briefing on the update on the ongoing voter registration to 4:15pm following the one-hour impasse.

 Last month during a similar charged meeting where Chiloba was given a dressing-down, the issue of folded political parties came up when it emerged that the over 60 party representatives were invited.

Efforts to get a comment from Chiloba proved futile as he failed to respond to numerous calls by The Standard.

CONSULTATIVE FORUM

The new IEBC commissioners had convened a consultative forum with the political parties, pending another engagement with National Super Alliance (NASA) leaders today.

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Of concern to the political parties is the engagement of the IEBC technical committee to oversee the procurement of the Kenya Integrated Electoral Management System (KIEMS).

“The electoral commission uses PPLC as a shield to justify their actions as the primary stakeholder and consumer of their product. IEBC will only succeed if political parties are widely consulted and consensus reached in every step and process,” said Obonyo.

The commission had set a target of at least 6.1 million voters in the ongoing voter registration.

Already the commission has admitted that there are over 128,000 double registration, raising concerns on credibility and sanctity of the voter register just 180 days to the polls.

IEBC has now commenced voter register clean-up with the publication of 78,752 cases of the registered persons from 2013 urged Kenyans to verify their details.

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