NAIROBI, Kenya July 8 – Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Chairman Wafula Chebukati has urged Kenyans to remain calm following Friday’s court ruling that nullified the presidential ballot papers printing tender awarded to a Dubai-based firm.
Chebukati said they had instructed their lawyers to appeal the ruling issued by a three judge-bench at the High Court.
“The order by the Court was solely based on the reason that there was no public participation during the direct award of the tender to Al Ghurair,” Chebukati said in a statement on Friday night, “This is very novel”.
He said the ruling “has far-reaching implications on the elections, “given the urgency to prepare for free, fair and credible elections in the next 30 days. the Commission urges all Kenyans to be calm and focused on how we get ready for the elections.”
In its ruling, the judges hearing a judicial review filed by the National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the electoral commission failed to conduct adequate public participation, a move that goes against constitutional requirements.
“We order that the IEBC commences the procurement process for printing of election materials for presidential elections scheduled for August 8 so as to ensure free, fair and transparent elections,” Justice Joel Ngugi directed.
The bench however, found NASA’s argument that President Uhuru Kenyatta’s relationship Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company influenced the award of the tender to the firm as lacking the evidentiary standard to prove the bias claims.
The Opposition had argued during a hearing Friday last week that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had acted improperly by failing to consult political players before opting to contact the printing firm through direct procurement.
NASA through its lead lawyer Senator James Orengo further claimed that a visit to State House by Majid Saif Al Ghurair when he led a delegation of the Dubai Chamber of Commerce as having influenced the award off the tender to the printer.
The bench which included Justices Joseph Mativo and George Odunga found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections.
Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.