By Martin Mutua
The surprise decision by national electoral body to abandon voting system&searchbutton=SEARCH'> electronic voting system for a manual process stunned Parliament and rekindled bad memories of the 2007 bungled elections.
|Poll officials countercheck voting materials in a past election.. [PHOTO: FILE/STANDARD]|
But even more worrisome for the country Speaker Kenneth Marende ordered two committees of the House to probe the controversial tender whose cancellation reluctantly led IEBC to give up on it altogether.
Putting an electoral team under probe seven months to elections is the last thing a country would like to see given the disruptive nature of its possible outcome, and what this portends for the credibility of the team set to oversee the exercise.
But again if no attempt is made to reinstate the tender, the adverse effect on Kenyans’ confidence on the electoral process could be severely undermined.
But worse still for IEBC, apart from the missed deadlines particularly on voter registration and education, the team is faced with a logistical nightmare that next year’s will be a six-in-one election, three more than it has been previously.
The tedious and risky manual intervention, which from experience has shown how prone it is to interference, is being reinstated for the about 18 million persons the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission targets to register from next month.
But with the clock ticking fast towards March 4, 2013, election date which court affirmed is constitutional and appropriate, IEBC appeared to surrender following the controversy and graft claims that rocked the processing of Sh3.9 billion Biometric Voter Register tender.
IEBC led by Isaack Hassan appeared headed for confidence crisis given that not only had the tender processing exposed the undercurrents and competing interests in the electoral body, but also dimmed the hopes of a free and fair elections many Kenyans had banked on voting system&searchbutton=SEARCH'> electronic voting system.
Questions were also being asked if IEBC then is prepared for the coming polls, the first under the current Constitution, and over which the stakes are higher than 2007’s not only because of its six-tier structure, but also because it will hand Kenya its fourth president.
Unlike in the previous elections where Kenyans only went to the polling stations to vote for the President, Member of Parliament, and a councillor, the IEBC now has additional three seats and about 18 million voters to contend with.