Kenya stops American organisation from educating voters

President Uhuru Kenyatta launches the upgrading of Malaba- Angurai Moding road during his tour in western on December 16, 2016. [Photo: BENJAMIN SAKWA/Standard]

Kenya has stopped an American NGO from educating voters, barely a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta alleged a plot by some foreign nations to rig the presidential elections next year.

NGOs Co-ordination Board Monday told International Foundation for Election Systems (IFES) to immediately suspend its Sh2 billion engagement in the country's electoral process.

IFES has been working under USAID to carry out civic education, voter education and conflict early warning ahead of the August 8, 2017 General Election.

Also on the spotlight is Michael Yard, IFES's chief of party, who is said to be working in Kenya illegally as he has no work permit.

The move comes 24 hours after Majority leader Adan Duale claimed that Mr Yard was working with CORD to rig next year's General Elections.

"It has come to the attention of this office that an American NGO called International Foundation for Election System (IFES) has been engaged by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) to implement the Kenya Electoral Assistance Programme, KEAP 2017 worth USD20,000 (Sh2 billion)," said the board's Executive Director Fazul Mohamed in a statement.

"Records show that IFES is not a registered NGO in Kenya and therefore lacks the legal status to operate in the country. In addition, Section 22(1) of CAP 134 laws of Kenya clearly outlaws and prescribes penalties and jail term for the operation of an NGO in Kenya without registration under the Act," added the statement.

It adds: "The purpose of this communication is to direct the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES Kenya office, to immediately cease all operations in the country including the implementation of the Kenya Election Assistance Programme, KEAP 2017 that has been funded by USAID to the tune of Sh2 billion," added the board.

The move to stop the NGO from operating in Kenya, however, did not come as surprise to many after President Uhuru Kenyatta warned international organisations against engaging in the forthcoming polls.

During the Jamhuri Day Celebrations, Uhuru talked of a plot by the international community to rig the elections in favour of the Opposition.

He accused unnamed foreign nations and international organisations of funding local civil society groups to influence who becomes the next President of Kenya.

"Money is coming into Kenya from abroad under the guise of supporting good governance.. However, its true purpose is to influence our electoral choices," he said.