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NASA raises concerns over Nkaissery grip on new election regulations

Martha Wanjiru, 91, is assisted by Ephantus Thuku to register as a voter at Huhoini Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Registration Centre in Tetu, Nyeri County, on the last day of voter registration on Sunday. [PHOTO: KIBATA KIHU/STANDARD]

The National Super Alliance yesterday gave the electoral agency seven days to respond to issues it says are likely to interfere with preparation and conduct of the August polls.

In a letter addressed to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the Opposition for example, highlighted new regulations that give Interior Cabinet Secretary Joseph Nkaissery exclusive power to decide who should access the national population register.

The regulations, published last year, state that only Mr Nkaissery can give permission to anyone intending to access the data, which the Opposition said is crucial in ascertaining if voter data in the custody of IEBC is genuine.

The instructions have caused anxiety in NASA, which has termed them “a plot to interfere with the audit of the national voter register.”

The Opposition claims the CS acted illegally in gazetting the regulations, whose implication is that the audit firm selected to conduct the voter audit will need permission from Mr Nkaissery to access the information for purposes of comparison with IEBC data.

“The Cabinet Secretary for the Ministry of Interior and National Government has taken unconstitutional and unlawful action by making regulations which in our view will impede the conduct of a proper audit. We believe this was undertaken to prevent citizens and institutions like the commission from getting population data and profile of individuals who may be eligible to register as voters...” reads the letter addressed to commission Chair Wafula Chebukati.

“We urge the commission to respond formally to the issue raised in this letter not later than February 27, 2017. It is appropriate that we have full disclosure under the principles of accountability and transparency and the right to information. An expeditious response is necessary given the restrictive timelines between now and August 2017. There is no room for indecision and procrastination.”

The coalition has previously expressed fears of ‘dead voters’ being allowed to mark the ballots.

“We seek an assurance in writing that the integrity of the register can be ascertained and that it is acceptable to all parties participating in the elections. We also seek an assurance that the process of appointment of the auditing firm and audit of the register shall be above board, inclusive and acceptable to all stakeholders,” read part of the memorandum.

They claimed the voter register is now contaminated.

The Opposition also wants to know what the electoral agency is doing about the servers which were used in the 2013 polls, claiming they are currently stored in unsecured warehouses.

Early this month, the Opposition met IEBC chiefs during which it presented a 16-point memorandum for action as it prepares to face off with the ruling Jubilee Party in the August 8 poll.

Yesterday’s letter, NASA said, was a follow up to the memorandum addressing other key concerns of the coalition, including the mystery surrounding delivery of hundreds of BVR kits to National Youth Service and Huduma Centres by the commission.

They say this might lead to parallel registration of voters.

The letter, however, did not state the action it will take if the issues raised are not addressed by the electoral commission.

The correspondence was signed by Senator James Orengo (Siaya) and copied to NASA co-principals, Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetangula.

The Opposition says that although it raised the issues in its previous engagement with the electoral agency, the matter has not been acted on, and accused IEBC of not being “enthusiastic or interested in challenging the unlawful conduct of the Cabinet Secretary in making and publishing the regulations.”

The coalition added that some of the licences belong to French firm Morpho, which provided the equipment in the last general election.

It wants proof the software licences used by the commission, the identity of the vendors and disclosure of existing contracts with the original manufacture to ascertain the status of the servers.

NASA also wants the commission to explain if Morpho is currently playing any role at the commission.

Meanwhile, NASA has rubbished reports of low voter turnout in its areas as a scheme by Jubilee to create an impression that the polls had been won.

Amani National Congress leader Musalia Mudavadi yesterday called on the Opposition supporters not to be discouraged over the listing of voters, saying that NASA regions had listed more than Jubilee in the just concluded registration. He said they were aware of a plot to prepare the country for rigging.

“Kenyans should know that stealing elections will be justified on the strengths of this mythical “Jubilee areas” high voter registration turnout. Indeed this high voter turnout is a bogey meant to justify intended theft of the vote,” said Mudavadi.

Mudavadi claimed that IEBC provisional figures show that Western, Nyanza, Coast and Lower Eastern voter registration tally is about 2 million out 3.5 million national tallies.

“Jubilee areas like Rift Valley is a myth because of the cosmopolitan nature of the region. One community in the region is being used to define the percentages that hide the actual figures in the region,” he added.

“Western region has extreme rural urban migration and supplies labour nationally. It is possible that despite registering in their home counties for IDs, they chose to register as voters wherever they are domiciled,” he added.

IEBC yesterday announced it will release total number of applications today following the five-day extension ordered by the High Court.

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