Bomas: IEBC taking no chances as security increased

On Sunday, August 14, the security of the vote, venue and process took centre stage. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Kenya could know its next president on    August 15, as the electoral commission was Sunday on course to complete the verification and tallying of the results of the August 9 presidential election.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had tallied results from 186 constituencies by 6pm in a day absent of drama.

Guns, scuffle and war of words have defined the last 78 hours at the Bomas of Kenya, Nairobi, as the country remains on tenterhooks in anticipation of the announcement of presidential results by IEBC.

As the focus shifted from votes transmission to tallying and verification, the tension at the national tallying centre has been palpable.

So much so that it triggered scuffle and nasty exchanges between the competing Azimio la Umoja One Kenya and Kenya Kwanza Alliance agents who have since Tuesday night kept vigil at Bomas.

The competing camps are alive to the fact that in an election that has shown the race to State House will go down to the wire, every vote counts and they will do anything to guard it. 

On Sunday, August 14, the security of the vote, venue and the process took centre stage.

The Bomas of Kenya auditorium was eclipsed with columns of police officers who ring-fenced the IEBC clerks from politicians, party agents and observers who looked on eerily. 

They jotted down the numbers given in the regular briefing, alternately verifying the same from their records. 

And when IEBC Vice Chair Juliana Cherera came on to speak, she cut the image of a self-respecting woman who did not want the commission to appear as lacking the legitimacy of calling the elections in favour of either Raila Odinga or William Ruto. 

She announced the verified results and re-read those in contention. Her first announcement was of results from 40 constituencies. By 6pm the electoral agency had not made another announcement but was expected to do so. 

Outside, a contingent of police officers kept vigil.

It was at the main entrance of the venue, however, that the police officers were having a daunting task to keep political leaders, their supporters and observers at bay. 

Kisumu Governor-elect Anyang' Nyong'o, his Siaya counterpart James Orengo and Laikipia Governor Ndiritu Muriithi were momentarily detained at the gate.

James Orengo (left) and Anyang' Nyong'o (centre) were momentarily detained at the gate. [Elvis Ogina, Standard]

Eventually, they were not allowed into the auditorium, which sparked verbal exchanges between their supporters and the police.

Earlier in the morning, UDA Secretary General Veronicah Maina was also denied access to the venue before she was eventually allowed in.

The denial of entry was in line with the enforcement of an order by IEBC Commissioner Abdi Guliye who had instructed that only presidential chief agents, their assistants, clerks, diplomats, observers and the media would be allowed into the tallying centre.

Unlike the previous days, the security checks began right after the Bomas roundabout where special forces were on guard. 

The heavy security deployment at the venue was informed by a scuffle the previous night.

On Saturday night, a few minutes after 11pm, there was a fracas after party agents accosted what they claimed was an IEBC official allegedly engaged in electoral malpractice.

The development would see the electoral agency officials abandon their desks before Commissioner Francis Wanderi directed that they resume verification of votes.

At this point, agents from across the political divide were accusing each other of trying to sneak in fake forms 34A.

Elgeyo Marakwet Senator Kipchumba Murkomen claimed that hooligans were brought by Azimio members to cause chaos and eject Kenya Kwanza agents who are authorised to be on the floor.

"Our agent is traumatised and has been unable to come back to work and his (results) form is still missing," Murkomen said.

What preceded that scuffle was yet another on Friday; the tallying and verification stopped for a while as security officers were called in to diffuse tension on the floor triggered by the discovery of a bag belonging to one of the agents.

It was discovered under one of the tables where the verification of forms 34B was taking place.

A melee ensued at Utamaduni Hall between outgoing Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu, outgoing Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria and Uasin Gishu Woman Representative-elect Gladys Shollei and escalated to the auditorium where Kericho Senator-elect Aaron Cheruiyot and outgoing Starehe MP Charles Njagua joined in. The matter was, however, promptly resolved.

Notably, the order to keep out did not affect only politicians but also observer groups such as the Africa Women Leadership Network.

However, Dr Jenifer Riria, the Chairperson of the Women Leaders Network Kenya and member of the Africa Women Leaders Network (AWLN), lauded the Kenyan election process, terming it as peaceful and one to be emulated by other African countries.

“We are proud of our sons, daughters, brothers and sisters for the peaceful vote and waiting process. We see that democracy has matured in Kenya. We, however, urge politicians to be peaceful as the country waits for the announcement of the country’s next president,” Dr Riria said.

“We trained women to run and win in this year’s election and we are happy that so far seven women have been elected governor. We wanted to answer the two-thirds gender rule through women themselves actively being involved and we have made a step. We, however, understand we might not get there because the law was never implemented. The only way to do it is to have more young women get up and run for the seats.”