Get unbiased lawyers for poll petitions, Issack Hassan advises Chebukati

Intimidation by politicians seeking favours, harassment by poll losers and lack of support from the media remain key troubles electoral commissioners face.

Ex-IEBC chairman Issack Hassan, speaking for the first time since he left the electoral agency, stated this in a recent conference at Cambridge, England.

In his 15 page review, he advises the current team at the commission’s helm to prepare a team of unbiased defence lawyers in the event of a petition.

Already, the commission’s declaration of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the winner of the presidential election has been challenged by Raila Odinga.

The NASA candidate disputed the results and is working on a petition which is set to be filed at the Supreme Court any time before Friday midnight.

Read: Raila given room till Friday midnight to file petition against Uhuru

“As a rule, the EMB and its head should use the same lawyer in defending them and the head of the EMB should closely monitor the work of the lawyer,” Hassan said.

“The defence strategy employed by the EMB and the head is important,” he told the commission currently led by Wafula Chebukati.

He said the hardships have metamorphosized since the days of ECK, to IIEC and the current IEBC.

“The defence counsel must be aware of the importance of maintaining the impartiality of the EMB and its head.”

“Since the lawyer will be speaking for you in court, you must ensure he does not bring his personal bias into your defence,” the ex-IEBC chair added.

Hassan, who early in the year moved to Somalia to work as a lead consultant with the electoral commission, expressed support to the electoral body.

Read: IEBC commissioners resign, ask Uhuru to let them stay until new team hired

He reiterated the importance of having the backing of local civil society groups and domestic election observers.

The poll expert advised these teams ensure there is parallel vote tabulation (or swift count) for the presidential elections.

“This is especially in close elections where the margin of error is equal to the margin of victory. Their report can support your election results.”

He supported parallel tallying as a way out for the electoral agency to tackle claims of poll rigging, especially for presidential results.

“The commissioners and chairperson should keep personal notes to help document their tenure in office,” Hassan said.

“The memoirs help to ‘set the record straight, and share experiences with others.”

“In order to reinforce the impartiality of the commission, it may be a good practice if the chairperson and commissioners do not vote in the elections.”

Also read: Kenya election was fair, no sign of manipulation – EAC, EU observers

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