Election commission moves to plug loopholes
Publish date: 09 October 2017
Issue Number: 746
Diary: IBA Legalbrief Africa
Elections officials will not be allowed to submit poll results without accompanying them with proof of signed forms in Kenya’s 26 October election re-run. This was revealed in a contract between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and security firm OT-Morpho. The Daily Nation reports that the commission’s $22m poll contract with the French security firm aims to seal the loopholes that resulted in the annulment of the 8 August presidential election by the Supreme Court. If the recommendations are implemented fully, all election officials at polling stations and constituency tallying centres will only send signed result forms to the IEBC’s transmission system, eliminating the contentious text messages used in the previous election. The French firm, which is supplying IT services to the IEBC, has employed 400 people to reconfigure the kits and will also be deploying one support engineer per constituency on election day.
A group of 14 diplomats have stepped into the fray, asking President Uhuru Kenyatta and the National Super Alliance (Nasa) presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, to stop undermining the electoral commission ahead of the repeat elections. The East African reports that they also warned that hardliners on both sides of the political divide could be sanctioned by their countries and face travel bans if they were seen to be advocating violence and spreading hate speech. Specifically, they were critical of the attempts to make changes to electoral laws, just days before the repeat poll, and demands for staff changes at the IEBC. ‘It is international best practice not to make changes to electoral laws without broad political agreement,’ said US Ambassador Robert Godec. The envoys addressed their concerns after a meeting with the IEBC leadership.
The UN has challenged the IEBC to ensure that the repeat election is held in line with the country’s Constitution and existing laws. The UN’s Kenya director, Sahle-Work Zewde, urged all parties to recommit themselves to dialogue ‘and to seek consensus-based solutions to their differences as the most appropriate means’. However, the Daily Nation reports that Odinga is calling for the removal from office of IEBC CE Ezra Chiloba and other senior managers for allegedly bungling the 8 August elections.
In another development, one person has died in the Western Kenyan town of Siaya during protests called by the opposition to demand the removal of electoral commission officials ahead of the fresh elections. SABC News reports that police in several opposition strongholds used tear gas to disperse the protesters. On the streets of Nairobi, the opposition has made good on its threat to hold weekly demonstrations to demand the removal of electoral commission officials.