The electoral commission has promised to conduct free and fair polls.
The chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Wafula Chebukati, made the commitment on the eve of one of the most hotly contested elections.
He also announced the hotline numbers on which Kenyans can report any malpractice at polling stations.
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In the face of mounting pressure on claims of rigging and a push for assurance that the electronic elections system for voter identification and results transmission would work, Mr Chebukati said IEBC was prepared to oversee a credible poll.
He warned presiding and returning officers not to sell their souls for temporary gain, in an apparent reference to past elections where some polling officials were accused of cooking up figures and disappearing to frustrate the tallying of results.
Chebukati reminded the officials that the duty of holding the nation together lies in their hands tomorrow when 19.6 million voters go to the polls to elect their leaders for the next five years.
“We want to assure that we are committed to everyone and to this country, that it gets what it deserves - free, fair, credible, and transparent elections. We are confident that the elections will be credible,” said Chebukati.
Taking a religious tone, the IEBC chairman quoted scripture, drawing the attention of his staff to the Gospel of Mark 8:36, which says: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul.”
“Why should you lose your soul? Why should you lose your soul for doing what you have been told not to do? We have trained you, we have told you the expectations of IEBC. Keep off the small little things and the temptations of life,” said Chebukati as he cautioned the officials against manipulating results to help certain people.
He spoke during prayers at the National Tallying Centre at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi.
The service for the IEBC staff was led by the chairman of the Kenya House of Prayer, Hudson Mukunza, who called on God to protect the poll officials from harm and danger.
Chebukati asked Kenyans to report any mischief perpetrated by his officials at polling stations and tallying centres in the counties and the National Tallying Centre.
“The players finished preparing yesterday. As referees, we are prepared to give Kenyans a free, fair and credible elections, and that we say without any fear of contradiction. We are waiting for you and we shall be fair as the law of the land requires us to be. We are ready, we are fired, we are waiting for the players to come,” said Chebukati.
He added: “As a referee and referees, we have the yellow and red cards, but we don’t want to use them. However, if need be, we shall use them. Should there be a problem or should somebody suspect anything at any polling station, we have 1527, 1537, 1538, 1539 as hotline numbers. We shall act immediately on any case brought to our attention.”
The electoral chief also said the commission would transmit the results electronically and announce them immediately.
He said satellite phones have been made available in the 290 constituency tallying centres for quick transmission of presidential results.
Although the Constitution gives the electoral agency seven days to announce the presidential results, Chebukati said that as soon as the results from the 290 constituencies were out, the winner would be announced.
“As soon as we have all the results from the 290 constituencies we shall announce the winner. We cannot tell you how many hours but it will be as soon as possible. Given that it is electronic transmission, we hope it will be fast,” he said.
Chebukati cautioned voters to ensure that the ballot paper is stamped at the back and put in the right box marked ‘IEBC’ for it to count.
The commission’s CEO, Ezra Chiloba, earlier found himself in trouble and had to revoke an internal memo sent to officers allowing them to validate unstamped ballot papers.
He argued that the General Election Regulations (2012) was reviewed, thereby validating the use of unstamped ballot papers.
Chiloba later recalled the communiqué as it went contrary to Chebukati’s announcement that no unstamped ballot papers, whether marked correctly, would be valid.