Cord claims IEBC, Ruto, Mucheru in secret talks
Election commission says it has not engaged in improper meetings as the opposition is alleging
Cord yesterday launched a new broadside against the IEBC and said top Jubilee leaders are secretly meeting electoral agency bosses to influence the 2017 polls.
The opposition claimed Deputy President William Ruto and ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru are holding informal meetings with IEBC to sway the ongoing recruitment of seven new electoral chiefs.
Cord co-chairmen Senators James Orengo and Johnson Muthama and MP Eseli Simiyu also alleged the pro-Jubilee meetings aim to block the full and comprehensive implementation of new electoral laws that make rigging more difficult.
Yesterday Ruto rubbished the allegations, calling them more empty and destructive opposition propaganda.
Yesterday the IEBC also denied any improper contacts but did not deny a meeting between Ruto, Mucheru and top IEBC bosses.
Mucheru, a technology expert, was poached late last year by President Uhuru Kenyatta from tech giant Google where he was head of Sub-Saharan Africa operations.
“We are informed Jubilee is opposed to the appointment to the commission of Kenyans who are patriotic and progressive and have a background and history of fighting for reform and change in Kenya,” the three said in a joint statement yesterday.
The statement was the first salvo in the Jubilee-Cord wars to control recruitment of new IEBC chiefs. It is spearheaded by an independent selection panel.
The Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2016 favours Jubilee, as President Kenyatta will be given a list of 11 candidates to choose seven for the commission. He also names the chief
According to the opposition, the IEBC secretariat staff — still in office and “yet to be vetted for good behaviour” — is working in cahoots with outgoing commissioners to execute dirty deals.
Cord forced replacement of the IEBC, saying it botched the last election, was hopelessly biased in favour of Jubilee and was planning to rig the next polls.
But Ruto denounced the statement, citing Cord’s “destructive tendency of casting aspersions on anyone, everyone and anything”.
“Cord has made it loud and clear it will not accept next year’s general election if their candidate does not win,” Ruto’s press Secretary David Mugonyi yesterday told the Star.
“Not once. Not twice, they have told Kenyans in their endless press conferences, which lack any agenda, and weekend funeral circuits, that they will cause violence if they do not win.”
IEBC Communications manager Andrew Limo told the Star it is not aware of the commission engaging improperly with any political party as alleged.
“Our engagements are formal and above board,” Limo said in a brief text. He did not deny the DP, Mucheru and top IEBC bosses have met.
But in their statement yesterday, the three opposition leaders accused IEBC of pushing to postpone the August 8, 2017, elections.
They also said IEBC is undermining the spirit of the new electoral laws and has already sent amendments to Parliament to undo key reforms.
“There will be no elections unless the entire legal regime, including the use of technology in an integrated electronic electoral system, is fully implemented and conduct of free and fair elections is guaranteed,” Eseli warned.
Jubilee, Cord warned, should not allow a repeat of strife, acrimony and return of political action to the streets, warning it will not accept unilateral amendments, of even a comma, in the law.
In an IEBC strategy paper obtained by the Star, the commission says timelines in the new electoral Act are not feasible and warns the law can disrupt poll preparations.
“The new amendments to the election law have far-reaching implications for management of elections, especially 2017,” IEBC admits in its document. “The major challenge will be around managing the acquisition and implementation of technology.”
The law, for instance, requires an integrated electronic electoral system. This means biometric voter registration (BVR) kits, electronic voter identification (EVID) kits and the results transmission system (RTS) must be integrated — an enormous and complicated task.
The system is yet to be acquired 10 months to the polls, yet the law requires all technology be procured eight months to the elections.
Also at the heart of the Cord tussle
with IEBC are the audit of the voter register, 2017 procurement before new commissioners are installed and development of ICT regulations to put the act into effect.
Yesterday, the three Cord legislators claimed IEBC intends to engage a less than reputable firm to audit the voter register.
The firm, they said, will carry out a random inspection of the voter’s roll in a public relations exercise to hoodwink the public that the controversial register is accurate.
During the painstaking negotiations on electoral reforms, the House team agreed to hire “a reputable professional firm” to conduct an independent forensic audit of the register.
The Raila Odinga-led coalition also claimed the IEBC has developed opportunities for “a second ChickenGate” — an IEBC bribery scandal — through multi-billion shilling procurement before new commissioners are sworn in.
They are demanding the IEBC halt every exercise currently undertaken in regard to election laws.
“This includes the advertisement and the award of tenders for election materials,” Eseli said.
The IEBC has already tendered for high-value 2017 procurement, including ballot papers.
However, yesterday, Limo said the new law has tight timelines the commission “is busy implementing”.
“There is no better way to demonstrate our commitment than to prepare as guided by the law,” the IEBC Communications manager said.
Cord also rubbished draft ICT regulations developed by the IEBC, saying they fall far below the standard envisaged in law.
The regulations, Cord alleged, are strategically designed by the IEBC to dodge oversight by institutions, including political parties, and demanded their immediate withdrawal.
Wiper Party Leader Kalonzo Musyoka with Peter Mathuki during the NEC meeting yesterday when the party urged the IEBC to lease rather than buy the technology in management of the 2017 general election. They urged Kenyans to stand up against corruption that has rocked the Jubilee administration