Security chiefs, poll bosses and representatives of presidential candidates yesterday met to discuss claims of vote rigging plan.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati, Inspector General of Police Joseph Boinnet and officials from the National Super Alliance (NASA) and Jubilee attended the talks that signalled high level intervention to address security grievances 11 days to elections.
The Opposition has repeatedly alleged a State-sponsored vote rigging plot. It questioned the criteria used to identify election violence hotspots, alleging it targeted areas considered its strongholds.
The alliance also demanded a response to claims that security personnel had been deployed as poll agents and an explanation on a curfew imposed on three counties.
The “adopt-a-polling station” push by NASA is said to have sparked heated exchanges, with Jubilee charging that it was a scheme by the Opposition to facilitate ballot stuffing.
The three-hour meeting convened by IEBC at a Nairobi hotel came on the back of sustained claims of a vote rigging plot by the Opposition.
Last week, NASA wrote to the British High Commission in Nairobi saying it had information that a military detachment drawn from Gilgil and Lanet was heading to six counties in Nyanza and Western regions in preparation to disrupt polls.
Wednesday, Boinnet is said to have explained how the over 150,000 security officers have been mobilised, saying other than the regular and Administration Police, the extra numbers have been obtained from the Kenya Wildlife Service, Kenya Forestry Service, Kenya Prisons and National Youth Service.
The IG and Interior PS Karanja Kibicho insisted that deployment had been done in accordance with the law and following the request of the electoral body.
The two reportedly challenged NASA to pin point the names of the alleged security officers who had been recruited as poll agents, warning that repeated attacks on security organs was demoralising the officers.
Also present at the meeting were IEBC Vice Chair Connie Maina and CEO Ezra Chiloba. NASA sent Norman Magaya and lawyer Adams Oloo while Jubilee was represented by Steve Mwanga. Independent presidential candidate Japheth Kaluyu was present.
“The PS gave a blanket denial of deployment of the army from Nakuru despite a written complaint from the Opposition to the IG, who termed the allegations as assumptions,” said Magaya.
Kibicho is understood to have explained that there was no curfew imposed on the three counties, as the government had only identified trouble spots.
IEBC also told NASA that the law clearly stipulates that police officers working during elections shall be under the direction of the presiding officer and not their seniors in Nairobi. “The presiding officer may order the removal of any person who misconducts himself or herself at the polling station, or fails to obey any lawful instructions or orders,” said IEBC chair Wafula Chebukati.
“The power conferred on a presiding officer and a police officer shall extend to a radius of not more than four hundred metres from the centre of the polling station,” he added.
On the controversial adopt-a-polling station strategy by NASA, IEBC insisted that only appointed party agents shall be allowed in a polling station.
However, Chebukati said NASA can still have more than one agent in a polling station.
“For the presidential seat, only ODM appointed agents will be allowed since Raila will appear on the ballot under the ODM party and not NASA. However the coalition parties are entitled to one agent each per party or candidate,” said Chebukati.
NASA insisted that each of its five parties is entitled to an agent.