NASA files suit to stop ballot printing tender

NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga.

The National Super Alliance (NASA) made true its threats Thursday when it filed a suit to block a ballot papers printing tender awarded to a Dubai firm.

The case, filed against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), seeks to cancel the tender on account of alleged fraud and lack of consultation with the main political parties.

Presidential candidate Raila Odinga accused IEBC of ignoring voices of suspicion and fear over the involvement of the firm, Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing LLC, in the electoral process and alleged links to the Kenyatta family.

NASA said the commission acted unfairly and against the law, and wants the court to quash the deal between IEBC and Al Ghurair.

It also wants the court to compel IEBC to procure printing services afresh, this time involving the public and expressly bar Al Ghurair from participating.

"The applicant is apprehensive that owing to publicly available information concerning associations between the interested party's directors and shareholders to the President of the Republic of Kenya and other integrity questions surrounding dealings in similar assignments in other jurisdictions, the interested party is not fit or qualified for the vital task of printing election materials including ballot papers to be used for the General Election in a free and democratic society," said the NASA suit papers.

The Opposition alliance claimed information available to the public associated Al Ghurair directors with President Uhuru Kenyatta's family, thus the company might eventually be part of a plot meant to rig elections in his favour.

"The applicant avers that had the respondent (IEBC) involved it and other stakeholders in its decision making, it would not have arrived at the decision that it did, taking into consideration the grave concerns and perceptions held by the applicant, regarding the interested party's integrity and impartiality in the electoral process," read the court papers filed by NASA lawyer Jackson Awele.

"The decision to award the aforementioned tender to the interested was made in contravention of the Constitution and is likely to compromise the integrity of the forthcoming elections in favour of specific presidential candidates."

NASA said the presidential election would not be democratic, free or fair if the tender was not cancelled.

An IEBC official said the commission was preparing a response to the suit.

The President said the case was an indicator that the Opposition was not ready for elections and was determined to have the polls postponed.

Speaking in Nyeri, Uhuru insisted the elections should proceed as scheduled.

"If he (Raila) is not prepared for elections, he should be ready to go home and retire and let us continue with our mandate. Kenyans should be allowed to exercise their mandate on August 8," Uhuru said.

This came as a storm was kicked up by reports Chief Justice David Maraga had said in a statement that the Judiciary would not interfere with the election date.

The statement drew quick reactions from Raila's running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, who termed it biased.

"It is sad for the CJ to speak in a biased manner, which shows he has already taken sides on an issue he may end up arbitrating. It would be better if he was misquoted or else the Law Society of Kenya should take him to task," said Kalonzo in Kitale, Trans Nzoia County.

Legal experts also weighed in on the alleged remarks, saying such statements would dent the Judiciary's image by creating a perception of interference.

"That statement is unfortunate and the implication is the courts are under direction not to entertain the application. As its head, he should be assuring Kenyans of the independence of the Judiciary even though I doubt the CJ has powers to influence the decision of any judge. The perception is the CJ wants to protect IEBC," said former East Africa Law Society President James Mwamu.

The CJ has distanced himself from the statement.