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CORD defends performance of its negotiators in IEBC committee

By Graham Kajilwa | August 21st 2016 at 00:00:00 GMT +0300

Parliamentary Joint Select Committee on IEBC leaders James Orengo and Kiraitu Murungi consult during the committee’s sittings

NAIROBI: The CORD team in the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee on Electoral Reforms has dismissed claims that it conceded too much ground in negotiations with Jubilee.

The team said it had ensured that political parties would be fully involved in ascertaining that equipment has been tested and  deployed in time before polling day.

A document released by the select committee’s co-chair Senator James Orengo and copied to its three CORD co-principals Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetang’ula declared that the opposition’s negotiators had safeguarded coalition’s pathway to electoral victory.

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“It is protected by a revolutionary change of the elections laws ...” It then continues;  “Political parties must hold their heads high because they will not be passengers any more,” said the dossier signed by Senator James Orengo.

Reacting to criticism from civil society groups and their claims that CORD achieved very little despite the sacrifices Kenyans had made in the push for the reforms, Orengo said the proposed reforms would stop the manipulation of results. The Senator’s remarks come just days after a civil society group under the banner Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu criticised the select committee report, saying it was not likely to stop rigging in the coming General Election.

“That is the rhetoric that has seen elections stolen and rigged in 2007 and 2013 because the sovereign power of  the people in those two occasions has been appropriated by reactionary forces,” said Orengo.

Led by Regina Opondo, the civil society had argued Jubilee was not interested   in reforms, because a reformed process makes it more difficult for them to corrupt the electoral body to their advantage.

Orengo defended the report saying the reforms were a result of hard negotiations.   “We now have a legal framework so the path to victory has been secured.”

He cited clause 17 of the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill 2016 which will establish an integrated electronic electoral system that will enable biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and electronic transmission of results.

In order to vote, CORD insisted that a person needs to have more than his or her name in the register because eligibility will now require one’s biometric data to be in the register.

That includes fingerprints, hand and ear lobe geometry, retina and Iris patterns, voice waves , DNA and signatures.

They also fought for the removal of the “Principal Register” and instead have the “Register of Voters” which will be maintained in a public web portal for inspection by members of the public.

“One register. No black book. No green book” boasted Orengo, in reference to the voter registration books that have over the years generated a lot of controversy over missing and misplaced names.

The CORD side also pointed out that the Bill makes mandatory provision for verification of biometric data at polling stations.

“An audit of the register shall also be done from the information held by the National Registration Bureau which includes identity cards, passports and certificates of births and deaths and the same must be undertaken before October 2016,” said the letter signed by Orengo.

Political parties will be involved in the acquisition of equipment, instruments, technologies and other electoral infrastructure .

Since presidential elections results will be announced at polling stations, the returning officer will in real time transmit the tabulated results to constituency and national tallying centres.

According to Orengo, the reforms will in effect mean the results announced at polling stations are final and citizens, political parties and media can aggregate the results at the same pace with the commission.

Orengo told critics that political parties will be involved in the formulation of regulations providing for testing and certification of systems, system audit, data storage, information security, data retention and disposal.

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