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August 2016

Sept. 1, 2016 (4 months, 2 weeks ago)

8th August: Political Parties and Politicians alignments in Preparation for elections.

Nine parties announced plans to merge and form Jubilee Party. President Kenyatta will use the new party in seeking for a second term. The plan for the party was unveiled in state house. The nine parties have already written to the registrar of parties asking for their dissolution. The party will hold a National delegates Convention on Tuesday, 9th September 2016 at Kasarani Arena, between 2pm and 7pm where delegates will consider and ratify this decision.

Opposition MPs accused our Jubilee of using tax-payers money in running its affairs. They further claimed that leaders from smaller parties were bribed to join the merger. The MPs who included Senator James Orengo, Homa Bay County Woman Representative Gladys Wanga, and MPs Junet Mohammed (Suna East) and Joseph Oyugi Magwanga of Kasipul challenged Jubilee to prove them otherwise.

Nevertheless, rumours emerged that Raila Odinga, the leader of opposition is also planning for a merger that will counter Jubilee in the next election. According to media reports Odinga is warming up to other five parties. The five parties that are likely to be woed into the merger are Wiper Democratic Movement, KANU, Amani National Congress, NARC and NARC Kenya. It is not certain whether the merger shall retain the name CORD. If Mr. Odinga is endorsed to vie for the Presidency he shall be doing it for the fourth time.

According to the Registrar of Parties, only four parties have been registered since the last election. The parties are Amani National Congress, Citizen Convention Party, United Democratic Party and Double Double Alliance. This brings the number of political parties in Kenya to 64. To register a political party, it must have 1000 registered members in at least 24 counties and physical offices therein. The party must also pay Ksh 500,000.

Further, many members of the County Assembly are rushing for diplomas and degrees for fear of being locked out in 2017 general elections. Currently, there is a proposed bill that requires them to be degree holders. Those who will fail to reach the required threshold will be locked out. In the entire country, there has been calls to have more educated representatives especially at the county level due to the work of oversight that is expected of them.

Furthermore, a clan in Mandera County has embraced negotiated democracy. This type of rotational democracy is meant to avoid dominance by the powerful and well populated clans. The model which will be applied in 2017 elections will send home all elected leaders in the county to give chance to leaders from other clans.

17th August: Appointment of a New Electoral Commission Expected by End of September

A seven member electoral commission is expected to be recruited by the end of September. The joint parliamentary select committee had a 30 days deadline within which to agree on electoral reforms expected before the 2017 general election. After lengthy deliberations the bi-partisan committee agreed on a formula to have the current IEBC commissioners exit and the recruit another commission.

When the current electoral commissioners appeared before a joint parliamentary select committee they chose to avoid questions on corruption allegations made against them. However, after brief private consultations, the group, led by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Issack Hassan, agreed to submit a written memorandum on allegations facing individual members of the commission and secretariat.

Further, the commissioners opposed the creation of a new voter register citing that it would be time-consuming and costly. The commissioners offered to quit the commission if they were paid their full salaries plus allowances until the end of their term. The commissioners also warned the committee against any recommendations that would find them guilty since they would fight for their innocence thereby delaying the much needed reforms.

Meanwhile, the Attorney General Githu Muigai proposed a team be formed to determine the amount to be paid to the exiting IEBC commissioners for the period remaining in their tenure. The Attorney General’s proposal came as the President received the concluded report on IEBC reforms.

A series of phone calls to the major coalitions’ leaders led to a breakthrough in the team discussing electoral reforms. Both Jubilee and Cord leaders had to make concessions from the positions they had taken in their previous grandstanding. Cord gave in to Jubilee’s Coalition’s position that the next IEBC team cannot be nominated by political parties. Instead, members of the committee were reported to have agreed that the next commission will be recruited by a panel of nine.

The panel will have one member each from the Catholic Church, the National Council of Churches of Kenya, the Evangelical Alliance of Kenya, the Hindu Council and the Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims, the Law Society of Kenya and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, with the Parliamentary Service Commission nominating two members who are not legislators. Like in the previous recruitment, the Public Service Commission will provide the secretariat - the support staff for the recruitment panel.

Jubilee dropped its position on having no changes to the Constitution but maintained that the period for the determination of a presidential election petition would be kept at the current 14 days stated in the Constitution.

The team conducting talks on electoral reforms sought a one year extension to supervise the implementation of its recommendations. The team presented their proposal to a joint House leadership meeting but it was not approved. The final electoral reforms report was tabled on 23rd August, both the President and Opposition leader accepted the proposals put forward and promised their full support in the implementation of the proposals. According to the Joint Parliamentary Select Committee the new IEBC commissioners ought to be in the office by 30th September 2016.

15th Aug: Kanu calls for a forensic audit on the voters register

Elsewhere, the Kenya African National Union (KANU) party officials called for a hastened forensic audit on voter register, failure to which they threatened their party won’t participate in 2017 general elections. The party further claimed that the ruling coalition is planning to use the old register to rig 2017 elections.

In another place, six MPs from the old Nyanza province echoed KANU and demanded for a new voter register. They claimed that the current register contains names of dead people and under-age who aren’t supposed to vote. The MPs who comprised John Mbadi (Suba), Mr Peter Kaluma (Homa Bay Town), Mr Opiyo Wandayi (Ugunja) Mr Nicholas Gumbo (Rarieda) and Mr Fred Outa (Nyando) rubbished the proposal to have a forensic audit on the register in favour of a new voter register.

18th Aug: Opposition leader wants to be consulted in appointment of IEBC commissioners

Furthermore, the Opposition tabled a proposal that seeks to scrap the role of the President in appointment of electoral commissioners. They claimed that, President Kenyatta may have a bias since he is a participant in the next election. The Opposition leader Raila Odinga further claimed that if the President is appoint the commissioners he should be consulted. The procedure of appointing the commissioners was one of the grievances that led CORD to the streets. In the protests CORD held that IEBC commissioners must be nominated by political parties.

11th August: IEBC Continues Election Planning including Capping Campaigns Expenditure In mid-August, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published an international tender for the supply of ballot papers and poll registers, in preparation for next year’s General Election. Submission of bids for the approximated sh3.9 billion tender were expected by 7th September 2016. The tender coincided with the looming change of guard in the commission. There are also a number of other big tenders, such as the procurement of electronic voter identification gadgets and results transmission kits. The massive failure of technology in the 2013 election was linked to late procurement of gadgets.

Meanwhile, the IEBC mapped 17 Counties with a possibility high conflict incidence. The Electoral risk map cites Tana River, Lamu, Kwale, Garissa, Wajir, Mandera, Marsabit, Isiolo, Meru, Narok, Nakuru, Baringo, Nandi, Kisumu, Siaya, Homa Bay and Migori counties. The conflict take the following forms: cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist. The analysis on threats of insecurity to the electoral process in Kenya also show Turkana, Samburu, Laikipia, Nyeri, Kiambu and Kilifi counties as having an average number of incidents of conflicts. Counties with low number of incidents include Kitui, Kajiado, Makueni, Taita-Taveta and Embu.

The electoral commission also issued new campaign finance rules limiting spending by political parties, party contributors and aspirants during the 2017 electioneering period beginning in February 2017. IEBC has put a sh5.2 billion spending cap on presidential candidates, Members of Parliament Sh33 million, and governors, senators and woman representatives at Sh432 million. Members of County Assembly have a ceiling of Ksh10.3 million in some wards. The rules have also set ceilings on political parties expenditure at Sh15 billion and single-source contributors to political parties to Sh3 billion.

We covered this issue in our blog. Read it here.

29th: Party-hopping and Kenyan MPs

The riotous nature of Kenya’s democracy can be credited to the bad culture of party hopping. Kenya’s political marketplace has been deprived of ideals due to the quick way than one can switch loyalty from one party to another, in the language of our politicians “there are mere vehicles” for an ego trip. On the other hand parties are managed like tuck shops by one man and for one man.

An attempt by the Joint Committee on Electoral Reforms to reign in Party-hopping stirred heated debate in the National Assembly when their report was tabled. Parliamentarians from across the political divide were uncomfortable with the proposal curbing party hopping. The specific provision reads, “After the names of candidates are forwarded to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, a candidate who changes their party shall not be eligible to contest in an election as a candidate of the new party or as an independent candidate.” The argument by the MPs was that the provision violates article 36 of the constitution which on freedom of association. To them, this was synonymous to making parties tyrannical.
However, Parliament was not able to edit out the party hopping clause as President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga were in consensus over the issue.

We analyzed the party hopping issue in our blog. Read it here

July 2016

July 29, 2016 (5 months, 3 weeks ago)

The Joint Committee on Electoral Reforms is formed

The bipartisan team on Electoral Reforms co-chaired by Senator Kiraitu Murungi and James Orengo held its house-keeping meeting five days after its formation. The motion to legally mandate the joint committee on electoral reforms was passed in Parliament on 4th of July. The committee is expected to come up with a raft of reforms that will ensure 2017 elections are conducted in a free and fair environment. The proposed committee is bipartisan and enjoys full support from both sides of the political divide.

6th July: The appointment of the team was delayed over disagreements on a parallel process started by the National Assembly’s Justice and legal Affairs Committee (JLAC). On 15th July, the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) – the largest party in CORD threatened to resume protests over lack of what they termed as genuine talks on electoral reforms. CORD fears that the legal committee may duplicate the supposed job of the bi-partisan committee, particularly, if it recommends the removal of the IEBC commissioners as it would make the joint committee pointless. Cord accused the Jubilee ruling coalition of in-subordinating the bi-partisan committee by allowing JLAC to continue its business as usual.

The JLAC drafted the IEBC (Amendment) Bill that gives political parties a say in appointment of IEBC Commissioners in future. The Samuel Chepkonga (URP) led JLAC team also started considering a petition on the removal of IEBC commissioners presented by Barasa Nyukuri and is expected to table a report.

The two sides have differed on whether the bi-partisan committee on electoral reforms should investigate the commissioners conduct afresh or use the already available information. The dissonance first surfaced as Parliament awaited to debate the motion to establish the joint Committee to decide on IEBC reforms. Cord maintains that IEBC has lost its credibility while Jubilee insists on following the due process in dealing with the team.

On 25th – 26th July, The negotiated bipartisan committee received public views at County Hall in Nairobi and is expected to table its report in Parliament within 25 days.

12th July: Poll showed Public confidence in IEBC dropped

In the intervening time, an opinion poll conducted by Synovate revealed Kenyans’ confidence in the ability of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to conduct 2017 elections has dropped over the last seven months from 40 per cent last November to 34 per cent in June 2016. The findings show that both Jubilee and Cord supporters have gradually lost confidence in the embattled electoral body over the period.

For instance, among Jubilee supporters, confidence in the electoral body waned from 63 per cent in November last year to 57 per cent last month. Among Cord supporters, the confidence level is at an all-time low of seven per cent, down from 15 per cent seven months ago. The poll was conducted between June 4 and June 18 at the height of protest rallies called by Cord leaders to push for the removal of IEBC commissioners.

Furthermore, reports emerged that 10 Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) staff resigned in June. The staff included returning officers who left possibly due to the tension and uncertainty that the body has been subjected to. There is also a proposal to have the body’s staff vetted for viability which might cause jitters. The commissioners were also said to be negotiating their exit.

IEBC commissioners told a parliamentary committee they are ready to leave office as the perception towards them is so negative. The commissioners said that it will be difficult for them to oversee the next election. The commissioners said that they are ready for a negotiated exit or removal through due process. During the emotive proceedings one commissioner wiped tears from his eyes as he described the price he will pay due to the unfounded accusations against him.

On 19th July, the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) discharged electoral chairman Isaack Hassan from corruption allegations in the Chickengate scandal. In relation to the same scandal, the anti-graft body found evidence of criminal culpability against four people -James Oswago, Trevy Oyombra, Hamida Ali Kibwana and Kenneth Karani. On March 8 this year Hassan was questioned on the scandal where he defended his innocence.

Meanwhile, the former IEBC Chief Executive Officer, James Oswago has accused EACC of using him as a scapegoat in the ‘Chickengate’ scandal. Oswago said that the investigations on the scandal were conducted selectively.

15th July - Auditor-General’s report on IEBC discredited and petition against commissioners defeated

The opposition remained opposed to the National Assembly’s Justice and Legal affairs Committee’s (JLAC) continued parallel process to address electoral reforms especially their plan to table a report after the scrutiny of Barasa Nyukuri’s petition. Shortly after the petition’s scrutiny started information cited from the Auditor General’s report was discredited by a Canadian diplomat Tim Colby and the IEBC chairman who sought a court order, seemingly giving credence to the opposition’s claims about the need for to investigate the commissioners afresh.

Both submissions attacked the credibility of the Auditor-General’s report, which was the main plank of the petition and the basis for the possible finding that the chairman and the eight commissioners were incompetent. Colby highlighted 21 points in the report where the Office of the Auditor-General made mistakes by failing to interview those mentioned, such as the Attorney-General, the main negotiator; wrongly compared costs and alleged failure to investigate concerns. On the other hand, the IEBC chair sued the Auditor-General on the basis that his side of the story wasn’t sought before the report indicting him was finished and submitted to Parliament.

The House Business committee froze debate on the report that cleared the electoral commissioners. This halted, for some time though, the debate over which of the two parallel committees of the House should spearhead electoral reforms. The suspension of the debate eased the conflict between the bipartisan joint Committee and the JLAC. The report shall be debated when the joint committee finishes its work.

Even so, speaking in a public lecture at Strathmore University, the IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba warned that delays in deciding the fate of the IEBC may have a negative effect in preparations of 2017 elections. Chiloba said that fundamental issues concerning the body should be decided upon to avert a crisis.

25th – 26th July: Public submissions regarding the IEBC

Submitting its views, the Commission on Administrative Justice (Ombudsman Office), stated that commissioners of the IEBC commissioners should be paid their full benefits if they agree to leave voluntarily. Chairman Otiende Amollo said the joint select committee on electoral reforms should make that offer to the commissioners. Omollo also rubbished the claim that picking a new IEBC team close to elections is hazardous.

In addition, the Ombudsman said the IEBC should be reconstituted to include four non-Kenyans. In a submission to the joint select committee on electoral reforms he asserted that a foreigner should chair the commission in order to “cure the present geo-politics and mistrust”. He added that foreigners will inspire public confidence and objectivity.

Addressing the media at Ufungamano House, religious leaders proposed the vetting of all IEBC senior staff. In addition, they warned that the rivalry between the National Assembly's JLAC and the joint parliamentary committee could derail efforts to correct Kenya's electoral system. They also warned against charging the election date.

Clerics proposed to have election results for all seats announced at the constituency level to be final as one way of taming rigging. They also proposed the number of electoral commissioners be reduced to five, and work on a part-time basis. Clerics working under the auspices of Multi-Sectoral Forum with civil society organisations’ drafted two Bills - the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill and Constitution of Kenya (Amendment) Bill - to effect a wide range of changes on electoral reforms before the next polls. The two bills were presented to the joint committee on electoral reforms. The team also wants electronic results to be considered while announcing the final outcome. In case of a presidential election petition, the team has proposed that the time be extended from 14 to 30 days. The team also wants voter register inspection extended from 14 to 30 days.

In his submission, the Attorney General said that IEBC commissioners should be persuaded to quit in public interest. AG told the joint committee on electoral reforms that compensation should be regarded if the commissioners win a court battle for dismissal pay after voluntarily leaving office. On the other hand, the AG cautioned the committee against dismissing secretariat. The AG’s opinion was sought to in on the issues of balancing national interests and rights of the affected IEBC officers.

Will a workable solution to the electoral crisis be arrived at in time to adequately prepare for the election?

June 2016

June 27, 2016 (6 months, 3 weeks ago)

After intense lobbying by members of the clergy and diplomats, opposition leaders softened their hard stance and called off their weekly demonstrations in favour of dialogue. The two main Coalitions- Jubilee and Cord who are antagonists in the IEBC debate agreed to form a team to iron out the electoral contentious issues before they are discussed in Parliament.

  • 1st June: Parliament reduced the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) budget by Ksh 450 Million. The Chair of the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee Hon Chepkonga stated that the reduction will not impact on the Commission’s preparations for 2017 General Elections.

  • 2nd June: Cord named a five member team to engage Jubilee in talks to disband IEBC. Cord team comprised Senator James Orengo, Senator Johnson Muthama, Hon Eseli Simiyu, Hon Mishi Mboko and Hon Abdikadir Aden. The team was named despite President Kenyatta denying any agreement between him and Mr. Odinga to have such a team to solve the IEBC conundrum. At the same time, Amani National Congress leader Mr. Musalia Mudavadi warned that “gentleman’s agreement’ between politicians will not solve the electoral commission’s stalemate.

  • 3rd June: A bill to give political parties a voice in appointing commissioners of the electoral body was prepared by the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee and taken to the government printer. Another bill that seeks to increase the period set by the Constitution to determine a presidential election petition from 14 days to 30 days was also tabled.

  • 4th June: During the National Prayer Breakfast religious leaders led by National Council of Churches of Kenya General Secretary Rev Canon Peter Karanja, Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops – Bishop Alfred Rotich and Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims Secretary General Adan Wachu pleaded with politicians to give dialogue a chance. The members of the clergy vowed to soldier on with the mediation path until an amicable solution is found.

  • 8th June: The Cabinet Secretary for Interior Security banned opposition demonstrations. In a quick rejoinder the opposition chiefs rubbished the ban and vowed to continue with the protests until IEBC is reconstituted. To add salt into injury the opposition increased the number of protest days from once per week to twice per week.

  • 8th June: The United Kingdom advised its citizens visiting Kenya to be vigilant due to the ongoing wave of opposition protests. The advisory note stated that more protests are planned in other cities in the coming months. The advisory may hurt Kenya’s tourism sector.

  • 13th June: The electoral body got set to upgrade its systems so as to make transmissions of the 2017 poll results efficient. The Commission has invited companies’ to bid for the upgrade of its results management system and data centre. The upgrade is estimated to cost Ksh 250 million. When in place the new system is expected to ensure that the voter register and elections results are secure and readily available for retrieval.

  • 23rd June: The opposition Cord and the ruling Jubilee coalition ceded ground and agreed to form a team to steer dialogue on the IEBC stalemate. The 14 members select team is supposed to come up with recommendations that will ensure 2017 elections are free and fair. A motion to be tabled in Parliament will give the team the legal mandate to:

i) Recommend legal, policy and institutional reforms to strengthen the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC),

ii)Improve the electoral system and process so as to ensure the August 2017 elections are free and fair; and

iii) Ensure the elections are administered in an impartial, efficient, simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent manner.

May 2016

May 31, 2016 (7 months, 3 weeks ago)

Demos by the opposition Cord were at their peak. In the street protests, three people were shot dead in Kisumu and Siaya. Opposition was adamant dialogue on IEBC reforms could not be brokered within Parliament under the standing orders.

  • 4th May: The Council of Governors stated that the IEBC needed to be a commission that meets the satisfaction of everyone.

  • 4th May: The Methodist Church led by its presiding Bishop Joseph N’tobura distanced the Church from the NCCK stand on disbandment of IEBC. The Bishop in his statement claimed that the stand is wrong and misguided and that IEBC can only be disbanded through constitutional means.

  • 6th May: IEBC Commissioners dared CORD leaders to table evidence that they have an agreement with President Kenyatta’s Jubilee to rig the 2017 elections. If such evidence is tabled the commissioners said they would resign immediately. The IEBC officials accused the opposition leaders of character assassination and peddling falsehoods.

  • 8th May: Parliament offered to solve the IEBC conundrum. A proposal tabled by Hon Samuel Chepkonga proposed to have a joint sitting of both the National Assembly and Senate’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committees. The joint committee was to have hearings from all the stakeholders and produce a report within 90 days. To boost Chepkonga’s proposal a bipartisan caucus of 50 MPs led by Hon. Kabando wa Kabando and Hon. David Ochieng wanted all stakeholders to clarify the issues that need to be resolved before 2017. The caucus sought to draw up comprehensive proposals on legal and institutional reforms aimed at preparing the country for peaceful, transparent and credible elections.

  • 10th May: Diplomats representing various donor countries – US Robert Godec, UK Nic Hailey, Australia John Feakes, Belgium Roxane de Bilderling, Canada David Angell, Denmarks Mette Knudish, France Remi Marechaux, Germany Jutta Frasch, Norway Victor Ronneberg, Netherlands Frans Makken, Sweden Johan Borgstam and Head of EU delegation Stefano-Antonio Dejak – countries spoke out and condemned opposition protests and lobbied for dialogue to avoid chaos in 2017 elections. In a statement, the envoys stated, “Violence will not resolve the issues regarding the future of IEBC or ensure the 2017 elections are free and fair.” These diplomats reacted after police and protesters clashed leaving three dead and several injured.

  • 13th May: Kenya African National Union (KANU) party joined CORD in their agitation to have the IEBC disbanded. KANU is one of the political parties that have scores to settle with IEBC since their loss in Kericho Senatorial by-elections.

  • 13th May: Parliament questioned the IEBC’s request for Sh45 billion to conduct 2017 general elections. The Justice and Legal Affairs Committee evoked questions raised by the Public Accounts Committee when auditing the procurement of electronic equipment used in the 2013 general elections. The Commission was asked to clear the integrity questions raised by PAC before their budget could be approved. The commissioners were supposed to answer questions on the BVR tender and irregular payments amounting to sh258 million.

  • 15th May: The president met senior Jubilee Members of Parliament in State House to discuss the IEBC stalemate. In the meeting were majority leaders of both houses. After the meeting, their hard stance of having a parliamentary led dialogue was cemented. Their position remained that, IEBC commissioners shall not be sent home unless by law.

  • 29th May: Speaker of the National Assembly Justin Muturi re-stated that IEBC reforms can only be initiated through Parliament. He emphasized that the Constitution ought to be adhered to. He pleaded with CORD leaders who are scared of Jubilee’s numbers in Parliament that the House has goodwill in reforming IEBC.

Analysis: In the continued hullabaloo on IEBC, no particular group that has come up with substantive enforceable reforms. The dominant talk in the political market is on the resignation of the IEBC commissioners. In all fairness, change of individuals at the helm of an institution doesn’t amount to electoral reforms.

The opposition CORD isn’t so clear on what it wants whereas the ruling party appears unclear on what to do with IEBC. The entire debate has been reduced to a playground of power play and meaningless political bickering.

Lack of leadership and consensus has resulted to weekly protests that bring the capital into a stand still. Away from the capital, protests have been held in opposition strongholds mostly in Luo Nyanza where the police has unleashed brutality in dispersing rowdy protesters (Police brutality is a no but so is a reckless protest). In Kisumu and Siaya, three people have lost their lives so far.

April 2016

April 29, 2016 (8 months, 3 weeks ago)

IEBC Credibility in Question:

The month saw a number of players question the IEBC’s credibility. The lead has been the CORD coalition following the rejection of the Okoa Kenya signatures. The Opposition has harboured a grievance against the IEBC since 2013 Supreme Court decision about the contested Presidency and now calls for disbandment of the Commission.

  • 9th April: The Catholic bishops, the Chief Justice and Civil Society Organizations warned of violence in the next election unless the government does ‘something radical.’

  • 21st April: The Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) also pointed out the IEBC credibility is in doubt as it has not put in place the necessary reforms to hold a credible election. Public confidence in the IEBC is at an all-time low at 28 per cent.

  • 23rd April: The National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) joined the bandwagon pushing for the reconstruction of the IEBC in the lead up to the Elections to inspire public confidence. The church body also called for a new Supreme Court and public testing of all electronic equipment to be used in the polls.

  • 25th April: The Law Society of Kenya also joined calls for the disbandment and reconstitution of the IEBC and in particular asked the Chair Isaack Hassan to step aside from his position as corruption investigations remain pending. The Central Organization of Trade Unions (COTU) also pushed for the same.

On the same day, CORD led their supporters to IEBC headquarters seeking to eject the officials from office, however their attempts were thwarted by heavy police presence and use of tear gas.

Given the prevailing doubts about the integrity, impartiality and capacity of the IEBC to run free and fair elections, will the institution be reconstituted in time for the 2017 elections?

March 2016

March 31, 2016 (9 months, 3 weeks ago)

Accusations discrediting the electoral body by a number of disgruntled political parties increased.

  • 7th March: By-Elections: The IEBC ran by-elections in Kericho and Malindi. The two electoral posts fell vacant after President Uhuru Kenyatta appointed Charles Keter and Dan Kazungu Cabinet Secretaries for Energy and Mining respectively. The two by elections were hotly contested and unsubstantiated claims of rigging were peddled.

KANU, the losing Party in Kericho by-election led by its Chairman Baringo Senator Gideon Moi claimed that a group of experts employed by the party to probe the by election outcome, revealed massive discrepancies occasioned by use of technology which manipulated the outcome. They said that the IEBC relayed results wired to its servers by Jubilee Party (JP) which had been manipulated to inflate the figures of the eventual winner Aaron Cheruiyot.

In a rejoinder, IEBC dismissed claims by KANU. According to the IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba, the Commission had not received any complaint of either electoral malpractice or misconduct, from the party, as required under the procedures of the Elections Act. Chiloba said the only concern raised by KANU on the night of the elections was that the results – which we understood to be provisional results – were coming in too fast. Chiloba said the Commission is in the process of compiling the report of the by-elections.

How will IEBC guard against such allegations in the coming elections?

  • 15th March: Voter Registration – The February/March mass voter registration (MVR) missed the target by 70% as the commission managed to register slightly under 1 million out of the expected 4 million. To say that was a dismal performance is an understatement. Their reason for failing to meet the target was the usual excuse of insufficient funds. Meaning the Ksh. 500 million given to them was not enough to register all eligible voters.

  • 28th March: Okoa Kenya Referendum – The opposition coalition –CORD-, push to change the Constitution collapsed in March when the electoral commission ruled that they had failed to get one million signatures necessary to force a referendum. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission declared that only 891,598 signatures out of the 1.6 million submitted by Cord, had been found to be authentic.

Apparently, the names rejected were those not found in the voters register. Some records had signatures but without ID or passport numbers while others had just names and no other entries. In total, the verifiers found that 741,979 of the 1,633,577 submitted had failed to meet the threshold authenticating only 891,598 of the signatures as valid.

Constitutional amendments can only happen through a referendum if it is supported by at least one million registered voters which the Okoa Kenya Initiative did not attain. A proposed constitutional amendment initiative can only be tabled before county assemblies if the IEBC has verified the signatures accompanying the proposed amendment and is satisfied that the amendment initiative is in accordance with the law.

The rejection of Okoa Kenya worsened the already grim relationship between the Opposition coalition and the electoral body. As a result, the Opposition has criminalized the institution among its supporters. Can the IEBC regain its credibility?

February 2016

Feb. 27, 2016 (10 months, 3 weeks ago)

The Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) begun a month long voter registration exercise set to end on 15th March. Over the period, the Commission hoped to register 4 million voters.

  • 17th February: IEBC Integrity – The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Corruption (EACC) started investigating Kenyan officials implicated in the “Chicken Gate scandal.” Isaack Hassan, the current chair of the IEBC is alleged to have been involved and the case has already secured convictions in the UK.

The Chicken gate scandal involved Smith & Ouzman, a British firm that specializes in printing of security documents like ballot papers and exam certificates. The company allegedly paid bribes to Kenya’s Interim Independent Electoral Commission of Kenya (IIEC) and the Kenyan National Examination Council (KNEC) officials between 2006 and 2013. Will the lingering integrity issues affect IEBC’s credibility? Read our blog here.

  • Our Analysis: The IEBC did not give the much needed guidance and information about the mass voter registration exercise in good time. Despite their continuous request for more funds there’s little evidence of voter education as can be confirmed by the results. Interestingly, countries with far bigger eligible voters spend less than what IEBC requested with impressive results which begs the question: are the dynamics here too different or the commission is over relying on financial resource at the expense of strategy?

Admittedly, regions where leaders called on people to register had impressive results but that was partly because leaders from these regions claimed IEBC was not fully in control of the exercise and accused the government of interferences.

The argument over voter apathy also holds little water as most eligible voters were turned away for having old generation ID cards when IEBC should have foreseen that challenge and acted proactively to ensure nobody was turned away. In other cases, there were fewer Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits prompting some individuals to make unsubstantiated allegations over favoritism by the IEBC.

Read our blog assessing the voter registration (here)

January 2016

Jan. 27, 2016 (11 months, 3 weeks ago)

Twenty months before the 2017 General elections, politicians have started evoking political temperatures and subjecting the country to unnecessary tension. (Read More)

Party Hopping Sanctioned :Parliamentarians pushed the office of the Registrar of Political Parties, to delete the Political Parties Clause that prevents party hopping. The deletion would allow Parliamentarians to campaign and support ideologies of other Parties that sponsored them to Parliament without the risk of losing their seats. Will their request make it into the proposed amendments to the Political Parties Act?