Fireworks loom at today’s IEBC talks with Big 4
A major showdown looms between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and four presidential candidates over the printing of ballot papers and voter register, at a consultative meeting slated for this morning.
Also expected to be on the agenda are the thorny issues of IEBC’s failure to make public a KPMG audit report, transmission of poll results and illegal transfer of voters.
Last week, IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati invited the four presidential candidates to today’s meeting on thorny issues expected ahead of the elections.
The four are Deputy President William Ruto (Kenya Kwanza Alliance), Raila Odinga (Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya Alliance), George Wajackoyah (Roots Party) and David Mwaure Waihiga (Agano Party).
Aware of the political heat likely to be generated during the meeting, Chebukati restricted the number of people the candidates can be accompanied by, to five.
Today’s meeting comes at a time when both Ruto, Raila and their allies seem to be reading from the same script on several issues, among them the need for IEBC to provide details on the printing of more than 120 million ballot papers.
The two coalitions have also taken a common stand on the phasing out of the physical register for voter identification in favour of the biometric system.
Printing of ballot papers has been a subject of political disputation in previous elections, with claims that they can be printed in excess to manipulate the outcome. The two political camps have also taken issue with the electoral agency over its unilateral decision to favour the biometric voter register without being complemented by a physical one.
They have also questioned how IEBC would transmit results from areas not covered by 3G and 4G networks.
In what appears to be the setting for a bruising legal and political battle should the elections be bungled, Azimio la Umoja-One Kenya coalition yesterday made fresh demands to the electoral agency, seeking to know its level of preparedness for the polls.
Through its chief legal advisor Paul Mwangi, Azimio wants the commission to furnish them with a certified copy of the register of voters, a list of all polling stations, the geo-reference for each polling stations, the design, essential features and security attributes of ballot papers, and the election results declaration forms.
The Raila Odinga-led alliance also wants the electoral body to provide the training curriculum for election officials and a report of the date, time and venue of the training, as well as phone contacts of officials in charge of the register of voters. Other requests are on the operations of Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) kit, logistics of distribution of ballot papers and supervision of presiding and returning officers.
“Elections are critical to democracy. It is for this reason that we are keen on ensuring that the commission conducts the polls in strict compliance with the law and the will of the people,” said Mwangi.
In a letter to the commission dated June 27, Mwangi demanded that the poll agency, while furnishing them with the certified copy of the register of voters, should include the full names and identification card numbers of voters in each ward. This, according to Mwangi, would help the team carry out its independent audit.
On Kiems, Mwangi wants the commission to provide the exact number of kits to be used, their serial numbers, the total to be allocated per polling station and their quality assurance report.
“We would like the commission to tell us whether the Kiems kit, or secure digital (SD) card ,shall be sealed together with ballot papers and other materials at the close of the polling and tallying,” he requested.
Azimio also wants IEBC to provide details of the programme to be used to load the register of voters to the respective Kiems kits and the name of the sub-contractor entrusted with the work.
Mwangi also wants IEBC to provide the names of officers cited by the KPMG report for illegally transferring voters. “Kindly let us know the names of the officers, the actions taken by the commission, whether the matter has been reported to the relevant agencies, and a report on the corrective measures taken to reverse the illegal transfers, indicating the exact number of persons whose details were illegally transferred, their identification documents and polling stations.”
Mwangi also asked the commission to reveal the exact location and details of the printing press handling the ballot papers and statutory election results declaration forms; and to disclose the time the commission intends to travel to the printing press with representatives of political parties for appraisal purposes.
The commission has contracted Greek firm Inform P Lykos SA to print and supply ballot papers, register of voters, election declaration forms and other materials.
In the letter seen by ‘People Daily’, Azimio has also demanded that IEBC furnish them with the details of the connectivity of each polling station to the 3G/4G network and details of the distribution of Mobile Network Operators to electoral areas.
In addition, the poll agency should provide details of the number of polling stations that shall use satellite modems and details of the service providers.
Early this month, the DP raised concerns over claims that about a million registered voters had been struck off the roll, a claim that Chebukati has refuted. In a letter to IEBC through Turkana Governor Josephat Nanok, Ruto requested that the KPMG voter register audit report be made public, as well as raw certified copies of the principal voter register, copies of the specified register and an assurance that the Executive won’t bully the commission.
The DP’s camp also told the commission to come clear on the sizes of polling stations, in view of the many aspirants gunning for seats, as well as give details of the electoral process. Ruto’s allies also want the commission to make public the steps it has taken to prevent ‘illegal transfer of voters’. It wants every political party to be allowed to deploy more than one agent at a polling station on the elections day.
Yesterday evening, ODM chair John Mbadi wanted to know the law IEBC is using to deny the public the full details of the KPMG report.
“IEBC must enhance more transparency for the electoral results to be believable. If the report is released to the public after the elections, of what use will be? We must know the level of preparedness by the IEBC,” said Mbadi.