IEBC reassures public on capability to conduct credible polls

The election body’s head has said there is no valid reason to postpone next year’s General Election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) CEO Ezra Chiloba said the country should stick to the August 8 date, but ensure there are appropriate laws to guarantee a credible process.

He also said it will be expensive to postpone the activity because it will require a referendum.

“Postponing an election requires a referendum, which is another election. There is need for good will to build trust amongst Kenyans,” Mr Chiloba said.

He sought to assure the public that the commission has the capacity to deliver a credible election despite their timelines being affected by the transition challenges following the exit of IEBC commissioners.

“That zeal of delivering a credible election still stands. We solely believe there is no reason at all to postpone the forthcoming General Election,” he said.

However, he said the law must provide clarity in the event the technology deployed fails or is inadequate.

“We will deploy technology to the extent the law allows,” Mr Chiloba told the Senate Legal Affairs Committee chaired by Busia Senator Amos Wako at County Hall in Nairobi.

Mr Chiloba expressed disappointment that the National Assembly did not consider vital recommendations they submitted to enhance the electoral process.

He appealed to political leaders and other partners to manage emerging electoral concerns to enhance trust instead of stoking public mistrust.

“I don’t think the problem is as big as it has been made to appear,” Mr Chiloba said, adding that the commission has invested in high proof security measures to check on external threats to their systems.

He said having a printed polling station register alongside ballot papers for the voters would help deal with rigging concerns.

Mr Chiloba said there is need for a backup to ensure all eligible voters are not turned away on technicalities that can be verified without compromising an election.

“If technology fails we must ensure eligible voters are allowed to vote. There is need for a contingency plan for any technology,” he said.

But Senators Hassan Omar (Mombasa), Mutula Kilonzo Junior (Makueni) and Judith Sijeny (Nominated) maintained there is evidence that the manual system has been interfered with to a point of driving the country into chaos.

The lawmakers said the manual system must be used in extremely rare situations for checks and balances and not entirely resorting to its use due to systematic technological failures.

“We are not envisaging a system collapse but one or two isolated cases of voters who need assistance. Come up with a backup system that is electronic and acceptable to all,” Mr Omar said.

He said party agents will collude to rig elections if the system in place cannot effectively deal with such anomalies.

Ms Sijeny blamed their counterparts in the National Assembly for rushing to pass a bill without assessing divergent views.

“It is obvious the bill was rushed. It’s premature. It didn’t follow the right stages,” Ms Sijeny said in reference to the acrimonious manner in which the MPs passed the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill.

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