August 9

IEBC clears 16,000 as Greek firm gets nod to print ballots

Tuesday, July 5th, 2022 02:40 | By
IEBC clears 16,000 as Greek firm gets nod to print ballots
IEBC chief executive Marjan Hussein Marjan (right) with the commission chair Wafula Chebukati addresses the press at a past event. PD/file

Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has cleared a total of 16,098 candidates to compete for political seats in the August 9 General Election.

The revelation lays bare the tough contest ahead, considering that there are only 1,592 elective seats. Of these, there is one slot for president – against four candidates – 290 seats for Member of the National Assembly, 1,450 for Member of County Assembly and 47 each for the positions of governor, Woman Representative and Senator.

By the time the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) will finish counting and tallying all the results, 14,506 candidates will have lost elections. The number represents a 91 per cent failure rate. That can only mean that premium tears are loading for a vast majority of the candidates on the ballot as well as their supporters.

The high number of casualties also highlights just how stiff the competition for elective posts has become in a country with one of the highest income inequalities between citizens and their elected representatives.

In addition, the high number of losers illustrates just how treacherous the murky waters of politics are in Kenya. For context, IEBC’s Disputes Resolution Committee (DRC) has so far handled 324 disputes that arose out of party nominations. Only a few are pending, the most notable being the petitions against Nairobi governor candidate Johnson Sakaja (United Democratic Alliance) and his Mombasa counterpart Mike Sonko (Wiper Party), which are now in the High Court.

Discounting these two, all systems are now clear for IEBC to gazette the names of the candidates any time from today.

Once this is done, it will pave the way for the Greek printing company, Iform Lykos, to commence the printing of more than 200 million ballot papers, a job that will cost taxpayers Sh3 billion.

More candidates

IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein Marjan declined to comment on the anticipated gazettement of the candidates or the printing of the ballot papers but sources told People Daily that his office was making the final tabulation on those cleared for the six positions that will be on the ballot: President, Member of National Assembly, Governor, Senator, MCA and Woman Rep.

Notably, the number of candidates to be on the ballot this year has gone up by 1,546. In the last election, 14,552 candidates fought it out for various seats, majority of them being MCA hopefuls.

However, the number of presidential candidates has dropped from eight in 2017 to only four this year. At the time, President Uhuru Kenyatta of the Jubilee Party, Raila Odinga of the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM), Third-way Alliance’s Ekuru Aukot, Mohamed Abduba Dida (The Alliance for Real Change), Cyrus Jirongo (United Democratic Party) and Jaaphet Kavinga Kaluyu, Joe Nyagah and Michael Wainaina Mwaura (Independent).

This year, Raila is back on the ballot as an Azimio-One Kenya Coalition Party candidate. He will face off with Deputy President William Ruto of UDA, Waihiga Mwaure of Agano Party and George Wajackoyah of Roots Party.

Plenary meeting

In 2017, the seat for County Ward Rep (also called MCA) attracted the highest number of candidates - 11,857. It was followed by the position of Member of National Assembly with 1,893 candidates. The Senate contest attracted 256 contestants, 299 women were cleared to contest for the 47 County Woman Rep post while 210 candidates battled for the 47 governor seats.

Although IEBC has not released the figures for this year, the trend is expected to be maintained.

Sources at IEBC told People Daily that the agency’s commissioners had approved the gazettement and printing of ballot papers during a full plenary meeting held last Friday.

The IEBC Act requires that it gazettes the list of candidates at least 30 days before polling day while the ballot papers are expected to arrive in the country at least two weeks before election day with distribution being undertaken three days prior to polling. The election is 34 days away today.

Two weeks ago, commissioners Justus Nyang’aya, Irene Masit and Abdi Yakub Guliye visited Greece and Romania to assess Inform Lykos’ capacity to print the large volume of ballot papers that Kenya’s 22.1 million voters require.

Nyang’aya, told PD that the delegation gave the firm a clean bill of health, paving the way for printing to begin.

“Inform Lykos is one of the most respected printing firms in Europe. In fact, printing of ballot papers is a small fraction of the works that the company does,” Nyang’aya said.

Special features

To ensure the integrity of the voting process, the ballots will contain security features and only authentic ballots will be used. For presidential ballots, each of the polling stations, constituencies and counties will have specific forms 34A, 34B and 34C printed with special features to avoid cases of tampering or manipulation.

“The ballot papers are tamper proof and makes it very hard to manipulate,” says Nyang’aya.

IEBC contracted Inform Lykos to supply ballot papers, the register of voters and results declaration forms, among other stationery items for the election.

Lykos, based in Athens, with a backup site in Romania, has capacity to print 14 million ballot papers a day. The printing machine in Athens can print between five to six million ballot papers a day while the one in Bucharest can churn out eight million daily.

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