In rare show of unity, Deputy President Ruto William Ruto and ODM leader Raila Odinga have joined forces to reject a State-sponsored Bill rooting for manual transmission of election results.
ODM yesterday announced that it will mobilise members in Parliament to shoot down the Bill that it said had the potential of clawing back electoral reforms.
Ironically, Dr Ruto claimed the Elections (Amendment) Bill, 2022 was part of a wider scheme to influence the outcome of the 2022 polls in favour of Mr Raila.
He declared that his troops in Parliament would pull out all the stops to defeat the proposed amendments.
“The never-ending onslaught through election law amendments is a choreographed attempt to install a puppet on the electorate and sabotage our freedom of choice and hard-earned democracy. The plan is evil and must fail,” said Ruto.
He described the proposed amendments as an assault on the “Constitution through reckless legislative and administrative sleights off hand, by dark forces operating in shadows.”
“The desperate efforts to install project kitendawili (Raila) by forceful, illegal, undemocratic and unconstitutional means portends a troubled future for Kenya, its democracy, the rule of law and freedom of its citizens,” he added.
Yesterday, ODM Director of Elections and National Assembly Minority Whip Junet Mohamed said the party has been in the forefront of electoral reforms, and cannot be party to any attempt to reverse the gains made in making the polls free and fair.
Junet made the declaration after the party’s top officials reportedly convened an urgent meeting and resolved to oppose the Bill introduced by National Assembly Majority Leader Amos Kimunya on Wednesday.
The Standard has established that the proposed amendments were brought to Parliament by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
IEBC is seeking to have a fallback in the event the electronic system for voter identification and result transmission fails on election day.
“We are going to oppose the Bill as ODM. The country has moved from manual to electronic voting. How do we revert to manual? The only thing we can do is to improve on the electronic system,” said Junet.
Junet cited ODM’s role in pushing for electoral reforms in the run up to 2017 polls that saw formation of a 14-member team led by then Senator Kiraitu Murungi and his Siaya counterpart James Orengo.
The National Assembly Minority Whip, who was a member of the bicameral team, said the country has invested heavily in electronic voting system that it cannot revert to manual system.
“This country has invested heavily in making elections electronic by buying registration gadgets and transmission gadgets. Billions of shillings have been invested in transforming the electoral process from manual to electronic. We cannot allow such investment to go to waste,” he said.
The Bill is seeking to allow manual transmission of election results in a departure from electronic transmission deployed in the 2017 General Election.
The Bill further seeks to allow for manual identification of voters at the polling station. Claims of dead voters casting their ballot have been at the heart of alleged election manipulation in the previous elections.
“Clause 21 seeks to amend section 44A of the Act to provide for complimentary mechanism for voter identification and transmission of election results,” states the Bill.
Part of the implication of the provision is that returning officers would have to physically deliver election results to the national tallying centre.
It further implies that failure of electronic transmission cannot be a basis to challenge the outcome of the presidential election outcome.
Ruaraka MP T.J Kajwang confirmed that the proposals were first brought to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee (JLAC) by IEBC.
The lawmaker said the House will scrutinise the proposals and will not entertain any clause that goes against electoral reforms.
“Right to information is a constitutional right, however much they would want to gag the media is laughable and unconstitutional,” said Kajwang’ who is a member of JLAC.
“These are proposals from the IEBC and we will do scrutiny and see the veracity of those proposals. If it has such provisions, I don’t even need to read it because it is unconstitutional,” he added.
But former Majority Leader Aden Duale questioned if the Bill had originated from IEBC an cited a letter by Attorney General Paul Kihara. Duale said the letter by Kihara talks of Cabinet approval of the Bill. He challenged IEBC to confirm if the Bill originated from them.
Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria in a post said the House should unanimously reject the Bill, stating that the proposed changes are recipe for chaos.
Kimilili MP Didmus Barasa described the proposals as mischievous and retrogressive.
But Election Observation Group (Elog) National Coordinator Mulle Musau backed the proposed changes, saying it will provide an option in event the electronic system fails.
At the same time, Kenya Kwanza Alliance leaders have called on their allies to reject the Bill.
The leaders including Musalia Mudavadi (ANC), Johnston Muthama (UDA), Mathira MP Rigathi Gachagwa and Tharaka Nithi Senator Kithure Kindiki, said the state-sponsored Bill is aimed at rigging the elections in favour of Raila.