IEBC changes loom as Akombe fears for her life

>Che­bukati is ex­pected to an­nounce changes in the project team bro­kered dur­ing last week’s re­treat in Naivasha >Com­mis­sioner Akombe says her brother has fled the coun­try and that she has never felt as inse­cure

Daily Nation (Kenya) - - FRONT PAGE - BY JUSTUS WANGA­tion­

“He left the coun­try last week when the threats be­came too much ... He is a man who loves this coun­try and had al­ways re­sisted our at­tempts to get him some­thing to do abroad. I feel re­spon­si­ble … I feel re­spon­si­ble for it. It feels bad but what can you do about it?”

“I have been to So­ma­lia, Ye­men, Jor­dan, Iraq and even Libya for se­cu­rity assess­ment mis­sions but, on a per­sonal ba­sis, I have never felt this inse­cure.”

In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion chair­man Wa­fula Che­bukati is this week ex­pected to an­nounce changes in the team that will man­age the Oc­to­ber 17 re­peat election.

In the changes, Mr Che­bukati will out­line the roles of the Project Team and those of the Sec­re­tar­iat in the re­peat pres­i­den­tial election to avoid clash­ing of tasks.

The changes will see mem­bers of the Project Team re­port to a steer­ing com­mit­tee com­pris­ing com­mis­sion­ers and headed by Mr Che­bukati.

“Every­one is en­grossed in re­al­is­ing tasks and mak­ing Oc­to­ber 17 ten­able. They (project team) were part of a three-day plan­ning team in­volv­ing county man­agers,” com­mu­ni­ca­tions man­ager An­drew Limo told the Sun­day Na­tion yes­ter­day.

Mr Che­bukati re­cently named Deputy CEO Mar­jan Hus­sein Mar­jan project co­or­di­na­tor with Dr Sid­ney Na­mu­lungu as part of the team. Nancy Kar­iuki is to be in charge of lo­gis­tics. The ar­range­ment sees Bernard Misati Moseti head­ing train­ing depart­ment as Al­bert Gogo as­sumes the helm of ICT, work­ing di­rectly un­der the chair­man.

The new ar­range­ment would fur­ther see Si­las Rotich be­come head of the na­tional tal­ly­ing cen­tre as Salome Oyugi takes charge of le­gal ser­vices.

The lat­est move is said to be a prod­uct of a com­pro­mise bro­kered by com­mis­sion­ers in Naivasha last weekend to con­tain di­vi­sions within the com­mis­sion ahead of the re­peat poll.

A source fa­mil­iar with election prepa­ra­tions told the Sun­day Na­tion that Mr Che­bukati will first meet Pres­i­dent Keny­atta’s and Nasa pres­i­den­tial can­di­date Raila Odinga’s teams early in the week be­fore mak­ing the an­nounce­ment.

As this hap­pens, an ar­gu­ment in favour of chang­ing the election date from Oc­to­ber 17 is fast gain­ing cur­rency with im­pec­ca­ble sources from the com­mis­sion in­ti­mat­ing that Safran Mor­pho — the firm con­tracted to run the re­sults trans­mis­sion sys­tem — has re­quested more time to re­con­fig­ure and up­grade their sys­tems.

But of­fi­cially, IEBC in­sists the date re­mains un­changed.

“There has not been any de­lib­er­a­tions on the need to change the gazetted date of Oc­to­ber 17,” Mr Limo sought to clar­ify.

Ju­bilee and Nasa sharply dif­fered on Mr Che­bukati’s move to name the Project Team with Pres­i­dent Keny­atta’s camp in­sist­ing that the man in charge of Sec­re­tar­iat, com­mis­sion CEO Ezra Chiloba, must not be un­fairly vic­timised for the flaws that char­ac­terised last month’s polls.

Nasa has, how­ever, in­sisted there will be no re­peat election un­less Mr Chiloba and his team are shown the door.

Mr Chiloba, his other deputy Betty Nyab­uto, Di­rec­tor of Voter Reg­is­tra­tion and Elec­tions Op­er­a­tions Im­mac­u­late Ka­sait, her deputy Mwaura Kamwati, the man­ager of op­er­a­tions, and head of ICT James Muhati were all left out of the Project Team with Mr Che­bukati say­ing he wanted a new team to over­see the elec­tions.

Mr Che­bukati is, how­ever, said to have given in to pres­sure from fel­low com­mis­sion­ers and will now be hand­ing Mr Chiloba and some high rank­ing fig­ures at the Sec­re­tar­iat “ad­min­is­tra­tive roles” in the Oc­to­ber 17 poll.

Ju­bilee Party, in a Septem­ber 7 let­ter signed by its Sec­re­tary­gen­eral Raphael Tuju, ap­peared to de­fend Mr Chiloba, warn­ing Mr Che­bukati that he lacked pow­ers to ap­point the Project Team.

“Sec­tion 38 of the Election Act merely do­nates statu­tory au­thor­ity for the is­suance of a no­tice and does not con­fer upon you any power, in your ca­pac­ity as the na­tional re­tun­ing of­fi­cer, to es­tab­lish a project team for the pres­i­den­tial election,” he wrote.

Mr Tuju fur­ther claimed that some mem­bers of the team have ties with Nasa. Mr Che­bukati had in­voked his pow­ers as the na­tional re­turn­ing of­fi­cer when he made the an­nounce­ment.

IEBC never re­sponded to the let­ter. The “re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion” of the em­bat­tled CEO will only see Nasa dig in fur­ther with its ul­ti­ma­tums given it has said Mr Chiloba and his team must go for the elec­tions to hap­pen. Mr Tuju went ahead and gave another set of names they also want sacked from the com­mis­sion.

“Our pri­mary goal is a prop­erly con­ducted election and we be­lieve this will not hap­pen with the Sec­re­tar­iat as it is,” ODM di­rec­tor of elec­tions Junet Mo­hamed said. ODM is one of the Nasa af­fil­i­ated par­ties.

To re­store con­fi­dence in its abil­ity to de­liver a free and fair election, the com­mis­sion is in the process of iden­ti­fy­ing an in­ter­na­tional rep­utable firm to con­duct a foren­sic au­dit of the servers and iden­tify ar­eas where the sys­tem might have been tam­pered with.

Nasa al­leges the servers were hacked and re­sults changed in favour of Mr Keny­atta but the Ju­bilee team in­sists that Pres­i­dent Keny­atta won fair and square and can­not wait to reaf­firm this in a re­peat poll.

So en­trenched were the di­vi­sions within IEBC that dur­ing the Naivasha re­treat, Dr Wale Akinyemi, a renowned mo­ti­va­tional speaker, had to be called in to preach the need to work as a team.

At the re­treat, some com­mis­sion­ers are said to have tried to con­vince Mr Chiloba to pro­ceed on an­nual leave and re­turn when the tem­pers have calmed but he in­sisted that he could not af­ford to be away when such a mo­men­tous as­sign­ment is com­ing up.

At the same time, it has emerged IEBC com­mis­sion­ers may have been mis­led by the sec­re­tar­iat af­ter Mr Odinga chal­lenged his loss to Mr Keny­atta at the Supreme Court.

Mr Che­bukati and com­mis­sion­ers were made to be­lieve that the com­mis­sion had se­cured all the forms 34Bs that were signed by the 290 re­turn­ing of­fi­cers across the coun­try, a no­tion that was later proved wrong dur­ing the hear­ing. “It is on this ba­sis that Coun­sel Paul Muite was con­fi­dent on the first day that they would read­ily pro­vide the forms when called upon to do so. The com­mis­sion­ers were sure this was the case only for the Sec­re­tar­iat to shock the world with fake forms,” a highly placed source at the com­mis­sion told the Sun­day Na­tion.

It be­came one of the im­me­di­ate trig­gers of the pro­tracted feud­ing be­tween the com­mis­sion­ers and the sec­re­tar­iat, later cli­max­ing into a leaked memo by Mr Che­bukati in which he de­manded an ex­pla­na­tion on what could have gone wrong with the pres­i­den­tial poll whose out­come was voided by the Supreme Court.

How­ever, Se­nior Coun­sel Paul Muite clar­i­fied he did not of­fer to pro­vide the orig­i­nal forms but was sim­ply agree­ing to prayers of the pe­ti­tioner (Mr Odinga) to have them pre­sented for scru­tiny.

“I then pro­ceeded to talk about forms 34A which came from polling sta­tions as­sum­ing some­one had an is­sue with the other. There is so much mis­in­for­ma­tion be­ing bandied about out there about this case,” he said yes­ter­day.

The se­nior coun­sel in­sists that the court erred in set­ting aside Mr Keny­atta’s win since the only way to rule out claims of hack­ing or rig­ging would have been to scru­ti­nise all the forms 34A from the polling sta­tions which his client had pro­vided in court.

“If the Supreme Court was in­ter­ested in find­ing out what each of the can­di­dates had got, why not scru­ti­nise forms 34A be­cause forms 34B were ag­gre­gated from them,” he said.

It has also turned out that some of the re­turn­ing of­fi­cers had made more than one en­try into the server, cre­at­ing a chal­lenge in iden­ti­fy­ing which of the forms con­tain­ing re­sults they had up­loaded were gen­uine.

“There was to­tal chaos in­side the servers. A re­turn­ing of­fi­cer would key in more than one re­sult into the sys­tem. It was dif­fi­cult to now pin­point the ex­act real re­sult,” a

Our pri­mary goal is a prop­erly con­ducted election and we be­lieve this will not hap­pen with the Sec­re­tar­iat as it is,” Junet Mo­hamed, ODM elec­tions di­rec­tor

mem­ber of the core team at the IEBC told the Sun­day Na­tion.

“The com­mis­sion should be blamed for this be­cause dur­ing train­ing, we failed to make em­pha­sis on key ar­eas like sign­ing off the forms, fill­ing them in well. In­stead, when we were train­ing the re­turn­ing of­fi­cers, we delved on ir­rel­e­vant ar­eas.”

On Wed­nes­day, Mr Chiloba de­fended the com­mis­sion’s han­dling of the nul­li­fied Au­gust 8 pres­i­den­tial election, say­ing it did its best and the “mi­nor er­rors” should not have led to its can­cel­la­tion.

He said the servers were not hacked but at the same time ad­mit­ted that “some of the of­fi­cials” the agency hired for the polls might have com­mit­ted er­rors.

“From the in­for­ma­tion I have, and the ex­pert opin­ion, I can con­fi­dently say that the IEBC sys­tem was not hacked. And that there was no at­tempt to hack it,” he said.

Another source ad­mit­ted that the com­mis­sion had not ad­e­quately pre­pared in terms of train­ing re­turn­ing of­fi­cers on re­sults trans­mis­sion.

“The com­mis­sion­ers only came to learn that some­thing is amiss when the Supreme Court or­ders on ac­cess­ing the servers came. That is when we were con­fronted with some of these glar­ing dis­crep­an­cies and the re­al­ity that not all the forms were avail­able.”

Per­haps the lat­est demon­stra­tion that the com­mis­sion could still be work­ing at cross-pur­poses was last week when it turned out that the sec­re­tar­iat had sum­moned 47 election man­agers from each of the coun­ties for train­ing in Nairobi with­out prop­erly brief­ing the com­mis­sion­ers.

An in­sider said Mr Che­bukati only came to know of the train­ing at Lil­ian Tow­ers on Wed­nes­day yet it had be­gun on Sun­day.

Mr Chiloba, how­ever, in­sists that the com­mis­sion­ers were duly in­formed.

“They were even in­vited to give their pre­sen­ta­tions. You also need to look at the pub­lished list of ac­tiv­i­ties which is in the public do­main,” he said.


IEBC chair­man Wa­fula Che­bukati reads a state­ment on Au­gust 11 at the Bo­mas of Kenya.

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