Dubai-based Al Ghurair will print ballot papers for the October 17 presidential election, IEBC has maintained, citing a running contract.
This emerged even as a meeting between the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and presidential candidates aborted. A special project team for October 17 polls and ballot printing were on the agenda.
In spite of resistance by the Opposition, IEBC stated that the return to Al Ghurair was informed by an existing two-year framework with the foreign firm.
“Procurement of ballot papers and forms is of critical importance to the election process. Given that the commission already had a framework agreement with Al Ghurair, we intend to proceed with printing with the company,” said IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati.
In a document that Mr Chebukati presented to presidential candidates, the electoral agency said it had introduced extra features to ensure transparency in the printing, packaging, storage, transportation and distribution of ballot papers and statutory forms.
Among the changes IEBC wanted to introduce was the reduction of extra ballot papers. This would be done by reducing the number of papers in one booklet from 50, and ensure the printer has seals for each constituency pallet - to be witnessed by agents at installation - and breaking of the 290 constituencies.
“We will be dispatching a due diligence team consisting of representatives of the presidential candidates, civil society, religious organizations and the media to monitor the entire process,” he said.
The commission also said it would install a tracking system with end-to-end visibility to monitor and track movement of presidential ballot papers during the entire freight from the printer, to the warehouse, constituency and finally to the polling station - with agents of presidential candidates having access to the tracking system.
IEBC reiterated that Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba would play an integral part in the process, in spite of demands by NASA that he be relieved of his duties as a condition of participating in the repeat poll.
“The CEO shall make administrative arrangements for the operationalisation of the project team(s). The National Returning Officer and the commissioners will provide the policy and strategic leadership to the project team,” IEBC said.
This was revealed yesterday even as the mutual suspicion between IEBC and presidential candidates replayed itself when a meeting called to discuss the issues failed to take off.
The meeting aborted after NASA leaders walked out, citing the delay by Jubilee leaders to arrive and the agenda, which they said was only shared when they arrived for the talks.
The NASA leaders were led by presidential candidate Raila Odinga, his running mate Kalonzo Musyoka, Bungoma Senator Moses Wetang’ula and his Siaya counterpart James Orengo and Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi.
“We arrived here on time as scheduled but we have not seen the other presidential candidate or his running mate. ...the commission supplied us with an 8-page document that we had not discussed before and we have asked for time to discuss the document and also that IEBC reschedules the meeting,” Mr Mudavadi said.
The NASA leaders also repeated the same at a public rally maintaining that action be taken against those involved in election malpractices in the August 8 election.
“We wrote a letter to IEBC and (its) chairman also wrote a letter corroborating our claims and demanded answers. We insist that we are not going back to another election with Chiloba at the helm,” Raila said at a rally in Kibra.
Kalonzo said they were ambushed by the road-map document and that Chebukati refused to meet them but later met the Deputy President.
NASA listed nine issues they termed as irreducible minimum for the fresh elections, including contracting a new printer for the poll material, exclusion of 11 poll officials the opposition accuses of messing up last month’s election.
They also demanded a shake-up of the ICT infrastructure including results transmission and appointment of new returning officers for the 290 constituencies.
“National tallying centre should not display results before they are verified and announced at the constituency level. No results should be displayed unless political party and candidates’ agents are given full access to all transaction logs and databases,” NASA said.
Moments after the Raila team left IEBC offices, Mr Ruto arrived and apologised for the lateness saying the meeting had been confirmed late Monday night after the Jubilee had convened a Parliamentary Group meeting.
Ruto said although Jubilee had raised issues about the commission including accusing Chebukati of clandestine meetings with NASA chiefs, it did not mean to interfere with its mandate. He asked NASA to allow the agency do its work without interference.
“No one should dictate which staff should conduct elections or how it should be done. IEBC is an independent body, which knows its mandate. Issues of management of the election are a preserve of the commission. No one should dictate what should be done or who should do it,” he said.
The DP was accompanied by National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale, Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen, Jubilee Secretary General Raphael Tuju, Chief Presidential agents Davies Chirchir and Ken Ogeto.
The deputy president said Jubilee would give moral support to IEBC in the preparations of the next elections.