Azimio repeats demands to IEBC before meeting with candidates

Azimio-One Kenya Alliance Presidential candidate Raila Odinga (center) and his running mate Martha Karua receive their clearance certificate from IEBC Chair Wafula Chebukati (left) on June 5, 2022, at Bomas of Kenya to vie in the August 9th election as President and Deputy respectively. [Denish Ochieng, Standard]

Raila Odinga’s Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Alliance has made a string of demands regarding election preparedness ahead of the electoral commission’s meeting with the four presidential candidates today. Yesterday, Azimio demanded to be furnished with, among other things, certified copy of digital registers containing all the names and identity card numbers of voters in wards countrywide, as well as a copy of the manual register.

At the same time, Mr Odinga demanded to be told the design, essential and security features of ballot papers and statutory election results declaration form, exact location and details of the printing press handling the printing of the ballots.

But even as Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairperson Mr Wafula Chebukati mulls over the demands, it is not clear whether Deputy President William Ruto will attend the meeting.

Dr Ruto’s campaign team yesterday released a five-day programme starting at 9am today in Igambang’ombe, Tharaka Nithi County, for an economic forum. That is also the time he is supposed to attend the IEBC meeting.

When The Standard inquired from the Democratic Alliance presidential campaign team, officials insisted that the DP planned to attend both forums. 

Mr Chebukati has invited Dr Ruto, Mr Odinga, as well as Roots Party presidential candidate Prof George Wajackoyah and Agano party flag bearer Mr David Mwaura Waihiga.

The IEBC chairperson had set out the agenda as discussing the printed register of voters, harmonisation of campaign schedules for the presidential candidates and looking at the election results path. “Each of the four presidential candidates may be accompanied to the meeting by not more than five people during an event that will be held at the Windsor Golf and Country Club as from 9am. We are asking each one of them to keep time,” said Mr Chebukati.

In a letter signed by Mr Odinga’s campaign chief legal advisor Mr Paul Mwangi, Azimio had doubted IEBC preparedness and asked to be furnished with certified copies of both digital and manual registers to enable the coalition to carry out its own audit of the voter register.

Azimio also wants to know the connectivity of each polling station to 3G/4G network and the details of the distribution of the Mobile Network Operators to the various electoral areas and the list of the number of polling stations that shall use satellite modems and details of the service providers offering the services.

“We are concerned that the commission has not gazetted the names and location of polling stations across the country. We are asking to be urgently furnished with a list containing the names of all the polling stations in Kenya, geo-reference for each polling station,” said Mr Mwangi.

He said polls were critical to Kenya’s democracy and unity, and that was why they were keen to ensure IEBC conducts the exercise in strict compliance with the electoral law.

“The coalition would like to be informed on when the commission intends to travel to the Printing Press with representatives of the political parties to inspect the printing of ballot papers, statutory election results declaration forms and other election materials,” read the letter in part.

“We want to know what logistical measures the commission has put in place for transportation, storage and security of the ballot papers.”

Mr Mwanzi said the coalition was interested to know the exact number of Kiems kits to be used in the General Election, the serial numbers of the Kiems kits, how many Kiems kits will be allocated per polling station and the quality assurance report on the functionality of the same.

Azimio also demanded details of the programme to be used to load the register of voters to the respective Kiems kits and the name of the subcontractor entrusted with this work and a confirmation whether the Kiems kits or secure digital (SD) card shall be sealed together with ballot papers and other election materials at the close of polling and tallying.

They want to be provided with the curriculum to be used to train election officials and a report of the date, time and venue where the training was conducted, providing the emergency telephone contacts of all officials in charge of every critical aspect of elections. Of particular concern is the register of voters, operation of Kiems kit, logistics of distribution of ballot papers and the supervision of Presiding and Returning officers.

“Reference is made to the media briefing held on June 20, where you stated that there were three officers involved in the illegal transfer of voters within the country. Voters had their voting polling stations changed without their request. You stated that the audit report had implicated three officers of the commission who were involved in the illegal exercise of tampering with the voters’ register,” said Mr Mwangi.

Action taken

Azimio wants to know what action the commission took against the three officers, their names and whether the matter has been reported to the relevant agencies.

Mr Mwangi said they need a report on the corrective measures taken by the commission to reverse the illegal transfers, indicating the exact number of persons whose details were illegally transferred, their identification documents and polling station where they vote, and where they were illegally transferred to. 

This is the second time Azimio has written to IEBC demanding answers over areas of concern about the polls. In response to an earlier demand last month, Mr Chebukati responded with a 54 page letter detailing the action IEBC had taken.

In July 2017, IEBC convened a consultative meeting with all the eight presidential candidates, including President Uhuru Kenyatta, to chart the way forward following the High Court’s ruling on the procurement of ballot papers so as to ensure the election is carried out harmoniously.

IEBC sent out invitations to President Kenyatta, NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga, ThirdWay Alliance’s Ekuru Aukot and Cyrus Jirongo (United Democratic Party), Michael Wainaina (Independent), Joseph Nyagah (Independent), Mohamed Abduba Dida (Alliance for Real Change) and Japheth Kavinga (Independent).

In 2017, some Presidential candidates vouched for printing of ballot papers locally to ensure their safety, with Mr Odinga and Dr Aukot vowing not to allow Dubai firm Al Ghurair to print the presidential ballot papers. They cited integrity concerns.

The agenda of the July 2017 meeting with the eight presidential candidates was on the procurement of ballot papers for presidential election, in consideration of limited time available for preparations ahead of the August 8, 2017 General Election.