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July 2017

Aug. 3, 2017 (1 month, 2 weeks ago)

NASA Court cases against the IEBC A three-judge bench hearing a judicial review filed by the National Super Alliance (NASA) found that the Electoral Commission failed to conduct adequate public participation, a move that goes against constitutional requirements. The bench which included Justices Joseph Mativo and George Odunga found that public participation in the direct procurement process was necessary for free, fair elections. Further, the bench found IEBC’s decision to meet representatives of Jubilee and NASA at the exclusion of other parties fielding presidential candidates was inappropriate.

NASA went to court seeking orders for postponement of the General Election should the electronic system fail on polling day. NASA told the court that the electoral agency has failed to put in place a complementary system as required by law. NASA told the court that should the electronic system fail on August 8, Section 55(b) of the amended Elections Act allows the electoral agency to postpone the election until a complementary system is put in place. In the same breadth President Kenyatta said that election cannot be postponed.

IEBC’s Election readiness A report dubbed “Ready or not?”, released by Africa Centre of Open Governance (AFriCOG) that assesses pre-election readiness of the country, says the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). The poll agency is time barred and needs to move with speed on key and critical issues touching on Presidential ballot papers, voter register, electronic relaying of results and efficiency of its electronic voting kits. The lobby via the report demanded that the commission publicly tests electronic system technology that will be used during the voting day.

Elsewhere, the Court of Appeal ruling on the printing of presidential ballot papers put to rest a controversial matter that had threatened to derail the August 8 elections. The High Court had stopped the award of the contract to the Dubai-based Al-Ghurair firm, after concerns were raised that there was not enough time to start the tendering afresh, award the contract and have the ballot papers printed and delivered in time. In the end, the Court of Appeal ruled that the grounds for cancelling the contract were not justifiable. The ruling cleared way for August election.

Further, the High Court threw out a petition in which three voters wanted the electoral agency compelled to announce presidential results within seven hours after closure of polling stations. Justice David Majanja ruled that the petitioners failed to demonstrate that the Constitution requires the commission to announce the outcome within seven hours.

Observers insist on a free and fair election Former US Secretary of State John Kerry came to Kenya to observe elections. Kerry is co-leading an observation mission sent here by the Carter Centre. Kerry urged all political parties and candidates to support a fair, orderly, credible and non-violent electoral process; respect the electoral code of conduct; and keep faith with the Kenyan people.

Wavinya cleared by the court Machakos Wiper governor aspirant Wavinya Ndeti got cleared after the High Court directed the IEBC to include her name in their Gazette notice. Justice George Odunga on Friday temporarily set aside a ruling by the IEBC disputes tribunal that nullified her Wiper nomination. Wavinya is said to have membership in two political parties.

NASA complains of a rigging plan & rolls out adopt a polling station Raila Odinga claimed that acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiang’i was working closely with the poll agency to rig the forthcoming General Election. In unsubstantiated claims, Odinga said that Dr Matiang’i has had several meetings with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission under the pretext of discussing security matters but top on the agenda has been rigging plans.

National Super Alliance (NASA) appears ready to have confrontations with the government after it stood firm on its ground on its controversial plan of adopting a polling station. NASA plans to have its supporters stationed on the polling stations across the country. The plan by NASA is likely to compromise security and the credibility of the election.

Cabinet secretary identifies possible security threats Terrorism, organised criminal gangs and banditry are among the key threats security agencies are struggling to deal with to ensure the electioneering period is peaceful. Hateful and inciting statements on social media are also possible threats to peace as gear towards 8th August.

June 2017

July 14, 2017 (2 months, 1 week ago)

Integrity queries haunt some aspirants The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) threw clearance of some aspirants into uncertainty. The Commission said that those with pending integrity issues may be barred from contesting. The commissioning was attempting to enforce Chapter Six of the Constitution.

IEBC also ordered aspirants who were aggrieved during nominations to file their cases with the Political Parties Dispute Tribunal. IEBC Election Preparedness Official campaign period started on 1st June. On this day IEBC announced it’s ready for elections as it received the first consignment of 10,080 Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (Kiems) kits out of the expected 35000.

The polls body claimed that it has learnt lessons from the 2013 general election and that they won’t repeat similar mistakes. The commission will employ backups to remedy the challenges that may occur. IEBC shall be under a thorough scrutiny after the AU landed in the country for an election’s conference. To mitigate massive systems failure IEBC bought machines at least 90 days to elections, trained staff and tested about 10,000 of the kits that will be used in the polls. The kits were deployed in the voter verification period. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission also said that dead and fake voters will not participate in the General Election as voter verification will be done via biometric details.

Meanwhile, MPs postponed the approval of the IEBC’s supplementary budget worth the Sh48.6 billion. This was triggered by concerns about an allocation of Sh2.5 billion to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Sh300 million to the National Intelligence Service. There were fears that treasury could be double allocating to IEBC.

Ballot Papers printing dispute IEBC dismissed the possibility of cancelling the ballot papers printing tender given to Al Ghurair. The tender has become an issue of contestation after NASA contested the suitability of the printing firm. NASA claims that Al Ghurair has links with President Kenyatta. The electoral agency warned that a threat by the opposition to block the printing of ballot papers has the possibility of shifting the election date set for August 8.

Parties to submit special seats list Political Parties taking part in the next election were supposed to submit their nomination lists by 24th June failure to which they would not be considered in the allocation of the special seats in the Senate, National Assembly or the 47 county assemblies. The National Assembly has 12 special seats, the Senate 20, and the number of nominated MCAs stands at 774. The National Assembly party lists must include nominees to represent the youth, the disabled, workers and other special interests groups. The Senate women party list must have 16 names and parties must ensure that no more than two nominees come from the same county. Vote tallying at the constituency level is final The court ruled that the Electoral Commission cannot alter the presidential election results announced by its returning officers in constituencies. Five Court of Appeal judges today ruled that the results announced by each of the 290 returning officers are final and all that will be done at the National Tallying Centre is addition of the results announced at the constituencies.

Opposition raises voter register audit concerns & potential rigging using the military The National Super Alliance (NASA) demanded a fresh audit of the voters register. The Alliance wanted the register to be checked against that the latest information on the Kenyan population. Salim Lone an advisor to the NASA flagbearer said the current register is flawed. NASA through Lone expressed their doubts on the ability of the IEBC to conduct a free and fair election. NASA further demanded for a mock election to avert a mass systems failure. In a rejoinder, the polls dismissed the claims of a flawed register as misleading.

NASA Presidential candidate Raila Odinga dragged the military into a fresh election rigging claim. Odinga claimed the Kenya Defence Forces, National Police Service, regional coordinators and county commanders have been mobilised and are being trained at Nairobi’s Embakasi Barracks to help tilt the elections outcome in favour of the Jubilee Party. In a rejoinder, Deputy President told the opposition to stop engaging in ‘unnecessary noise.’

May 2017

June 12, 2017 (3 months, 1 week ago)

Aspirants in the 8th August Polls Four thousand aspirants were cleared by the Registrar of Political Parties (RPP) to run as independent candidates in the 8th August General Election. Ten are seeking the Presidency and 27 the governorship. There are 31 independents vying for senator, 215 MP, 14 woman representative and the rest are seeking Member of the County Assembly (MCA) positions.

The Presidential seat has attracted 18 aspirants. They include: Professor Michael Wainaina - PhD, Peter Ondeng (Restore and Build Kenya Party), Abduba Dida (Tunza Coalition), Kennedy Mongare (Federal Party of Kenya) and Ekuru Aukot (Thirdway Alliance Party). Joe Nyagah (Independent Presidential Candidate, Nazlin Omar (Independent Presidential Candidate), Cyrus Jirongo (UDP Party), Uhuru Kenyatta (Jubilee Party), Raila Amolo Odinga (ODM), David Munga, Stephen Oweke Oganga, Robert Mukwana Juma, Joseph Ngacha, Japheth Kavinga, Nixon Kukubah, Joseph Musyoka and Erastus Nyamera.

Candidates vetting Sixteen Government agencies will vet all aspirants seeking elective positions ahead of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC’s) nominations that starts on May 28. The 16 consist of the Judiciary, Office of the Attorney General and Department of Justice, IEBC, Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission, Directorate of Criminal Investigations, Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions, Public Service Commission, Higher Education Loans Board (HELB), Kenya Revenue Authority, Commission for University Education, Kenya National Examination Council, Department of Immigration, the Official Receiver, Credit Information Sharing Association of Kenya and professional bodies. Vetting will ensure that only people of high integrity presents themselves for election.

Meanwhile, the Supreme Court begun hearing a case filed by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights (KNCHR) seeking an advisory opinion on the strict implementation of Chapter Six of the Constitution. KNCHR wants the Supreme Court to make a specific finding as to whether Chapter Six of the Constitution sets up a fit and proper test for leadership for both elective and appointive offices and whether that test should be objective or subjective and also whether that test should be wider than the criminal test.

Election Preparedness The electoral agency started the process to remove of 2.9 million ghost voters from the electoral register. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the 30-day exercise will involve verifying the 19.53 million Kenyans who have been registered to vote in this year's General Election.

The opposition - NASA - protested the reshuffling of officers in the polls team as a plot to rig the election. In their defense, the electoral commission has defended its list of 47 county and 290 constituency returning officers. The opposition 3coalition National Super Alliance demanded the electoral body to zone and distributes polling stations equally among the three leading mobile and data operators. They argued that this would guarantee the required quality, speed, and precision of presidential election results transmission. The zoning and distribution should recognise the 3G reach of each of the service providers — namely Safaricom, Airtel and Telkom Kenya.

Disputes over Ballot Paper Printing & Presidential Vote Tallying
The Public Procurement Administrative Review Board on Friday cancelled Sh2.5 billion tender process after a Kenyan company petitioned against the method that was followed to identify the winning company. Earlier in the year Al Ghurair award had been cancelled. The review board delivered its decision and allowed IEBC to engage in direct tendering.

High Court said that late conclusion of the disputes could either impede the process of printing ballot papers or result into omission of names as a result of late transmission of rulings to the Commission.

At the same time, Opposition threatened not to participate in the election, if vote tallying is to be done in Nairobi’s National Tallying Centre. This threat came after IEBC appealed the ruling on vote tallying. On the same day, Matiang’i the Cabinet Secretary of Education banned campaign rallies in schools.

Civil society lobby groups have joined the Opposition in asking the electoral body to withdraw an appeal it filed in the Court of Appeal with the aim of overturning the High Court decision that presidential election results announced by returning officers at constituency level are final.

Furthermore, the Government’s Chief of Staff met with security chiefs where he ordered them to monitor any external funds coming to Kenya.

April 2017

May 12, 2017 (4 months, 1 week ago)

Party Primaries Chaos Jubilee cancelled nominations in 21 counties due to chaos and insufficient preparedness which resulted in massive irregularities. Orange Democratic Party (ODM) also had chaotic primaries and a number of them had to be repeated.

Court ended politicians’ hopes of changing parties at the last minute when it upheld a ruling that locked the party hopping door on 9th April. This means losers in the ongoing primaries can only contest as independents. The 8th August election is likely to have a huge number of independent candidates, since dissatisfied losers are likely to vie on an independent ticket. Political parties have been spared from complying with the gender rule principle in the ongoing primaries and in 8th August polls. A non-compliant list shall only be rejected in 2022.

IEBC faulted the extension of party primaries by the court since they will affect timelines that are set to deliver free and fair election. The Electoral Commission said that Cabinet secretaries are free to campaign for President Uhuru Kenyatta ahead of the August elections, despite protests by the Opposition, which has called for their neutrality.

Following the nominations, it has emerged that at least 1,952 individuals want to be elected to Parliament. According to the data published by the IEBC, the Jubilee Party has a total 1,120 aspirants for the seats in the Senate and the National Assembly including Woman Representatives. ODM has 569 – 60 of whom want to be senators, 446 MPs and 63 Woman Representatives. Only 23 women are vying for Senatorial positions. Voter Register Audit The KPMG was commissioned to audit the voter register using the death and birth registers. The firm will also use the 2009 population census to assess, based on growth projections, the number of voters in a particular area before making recommendations to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission.

Elsewhere, a voter challenged the new election law. The petitioner said that the changes will interfere with the electoral body’s timeline for preparing as well as conducting free and fair polls. The parts of the law in contention were the timelines for the audit of the voter register, opening it for verification and establishing an integrated electoral system.

Fears of Vote Tallying Tampering: NASA to have its own centre National Super Alliance (NASA) for planning to have parallel tallying centre during this year's elections. NASA leaders met with IEBC commissioners in a bid to resolve the issue and the matter was solved amicably. The law only allows political parties to deploy agents across the country. Jubilee Party leaders - Nyeri Senator Mutahi Kagwe and Kieni MP Kanini Kega - lashed out at NASA co-leader Raila Odinga's announcement saying it’s absurd and unheard of.

Early in the month, police held a Ugandan - feared to be working with the Islamic State group - on suspicion of attempting to hack into the IEBC’s systems. Similarly, governors demanded fears that the IEBC’s systems could be hacked and results manipulated addressed. Presidential Vote Announcement Ruling A court ruled that presidential election results declared at the constituency level by returning officers will be final and will not be subject to any alterations at the National Tallying Centre. The judges have ruled that Section 39(2) and (3) of the Elections Act is contrary to Article 86 of the Constitution.

IEBC’s Election Preparedness A survey conducted by Ipsos Synovate shows that Kenyans believe that IEBC will conduct credible elections.

The announcement came through as Parliament approved five sets of election regulations - paving the way for the Electoral Commission to manage technology use and nominations countrywide. The regulations included voter education, party lists and conduct of primaries. The anti-corruption agency’s powers in clearing candidates were enhanced.

Regardless, the IEBC was not out of the woods yet as it was sued for awarding a tender for an election management system to a French-based firm in a procurement process perceived to be faulty and corrupt.

The Polling Agency unveiled plans to roll out an integrated electoral kit to ensure that officials will not travel long distances to the national tallying centre to deliver results. By using multi-layered encrypted security features in the Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (Kiems), results announced from the polling stations will be scanned and sent to the commission headquarters in a matter of minutes.

Despite the well laid plans, a disagreement in the IEBC over staff transfer emerged just three months to the August 8 General Election. At the center of the simmering row were proposed staff changes and movements put forward by CEO Ezra Chiloba. The transfer has so far been suspended.

March 2017

April 10, 2017 (5 months, 2 weeks ago)

Conclusion of Voter Registration The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) suspended the voter registration despite the court order to continue the exercise till May 17. This decision was made in order to give IEBC time to audit the register. Kenyans in the diaspora had wanted the voter registration extended by two weeks over claims the time allocated to them was insufficient and unreasonable for the estimated three million people. By the end of the exercise, IEBC had registered 1,521 Kenyans living abroad to participate in the general election. Only Kenyans living in East Africa and South Africa could register.

At around the same time, the Public Service ministry returned more than 100 biometric voter registration kits to the electoral commission. This followed accusations from the opposition circles that they were being used to register voters illegally.

Controversy over Poll Management System The Electoral Commission awarded France’s Safran the contract to supply the Electoral Information Management System three days after formally cancelling the Sh3.8 billion tender offered to Gemalto, a French firm. The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission terminated the contract citing price, time and budget constraints. Gemalto SA unsuccessfully challenged the electoral commission’s move to cancel a Sh3 billion tender for the supply of a system for voter identification and results transmission in the August General Election.

The Kenya Integrated Elections Management System (KIEMS) was to become operational as from this month. Jubilee politicians have linked Raila Odinga to Safran, a firm that is supposed to provide an elections management system to IEBC. In a rejoinder Mr. Odinga rubbished the claims as mere jubilee propaganda.

In order to meet deadlines highlighted by the law on use of technology, IEBC decided to single source. The technology is supposed to be up 120 days before election, IEBC is also supposed to put up the register for verification 60 days before election.

Meanwhile, Court of appeal declined to suspend the fresh tendering since doing so would have jeopardized preparations for the August 8 elections. Initially the High Court had quashed the tender. Party Primaries Lists and code of Conduct Sixty seven political parties preparing to participate in the August General Election submitted their nomination rules for review. Besides, small political parties stormed IEBC’s offices and demanded a meeting with the commissioners. The parties wanted the commission to extend the deadline when political parties should submit their members’ details.

This year the Member of County Assembly (MCA) position has been crowded since it has attracted professionals as the once humble position has turned to be lucrative. Interests are high in the MCA position that the IEBC approximates that the number of aspirants for the six elective seats is likely triple to 40,000 in the August elections, from only 14,000 in the 2013 polls.

Meanwhile, the High Court extended the order allowing politicians to operate within the previous law that gave them up to 45 days before an election to defect.

August General Election Preparedness Government organs providing essential services during elections have given brief reports on their preparedness. IEBC officials reported they security have mapped areas that will have hotly contested elections for security purposes. Security agencies want to ensure that the elections shall be free from violence. The agency also warned politicians guilty of hate speech that they risk being locked out of elections. It said it would monitor politicians after nominations to bar those inciting hatred from running for political office.

On the other hand Chief Justice Maraga said that the Judiciary has set aside a special group of magistrates to be trained to specifically handle election cases in preparation for the August 8 polls. Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) Keriako Tobiko said a total of 105 prosecutors had been assigned election-related offences, while Ndegwa Muhoro said police were prepared to handle any cases of election violence.

Elsewhere, the Jubilee government through its spokesperson clarified that it hasn’t banned demonstrations after the elections. The clarification came after there were rumours that the police would arrest anyone found protesting over claims of disputed elections. Government through State house spokesperson warned the opposition to stop peddling falsehoods against IEBC and give it the much needed support.

February 2017

March 11, 2017 (6 months, 2 weeks ago)

Low numbers reported in Mass Voter Registration even as Diaspora listing is limited According to an Ipsos Synovate survey, at least two million Kenyans eligible to vote were not willing to be registered as voters in the mass voting registration. There is real voter apathy across the political divide, with 12 % and 11 % of Jubilee and NASA supporters saying that they don’t intend to register respectively. This raised concern among politicians across the political divide and led to the government starting a nationwide civic education in an attempt to curb voter apathy.

The High Court extended mass voter registration by two days, it officially ends on 16th February. The decision by Justice Enoch Chacha followed a case filed by activist Okiya Omtata against the IEBC decision to terminate the registration of voters five months to the August 8 polls contrary to the requirement of a section of the Elections Act 2011, which dictates that the same should be done two months to the polls. Two other court cases seeking to extend the mass voter registration exercise were filed around the same time. Merseline Awour Onyango sued the Principal Registrar of Persons, IEBC and the Attorney-General, arguing that the processing of her national identity card has been delayed for nearly five months. Another man also petitioned the electoral agency to extend voter registration to accommodate all prospective voters. David Gesicho argued that restricting the mass listing to only 30 days would lock out many Kenyans who had attained voting age.

Elsewhere, the Public Service, Youth and Gender Affairs Cabinet Secretary (CS) Sicily Kariuki denied claims that members of the National Youth Service (NYS) arrested in Nairobi were using biometric voter registration kits to register people to vote. The CS said the youth were using the machines in the registration of beneficiaries of the Youth Empowerment Programme to streamline identification, payment and management of groups.

Meanwhile, approximately four million Kenyans living abroad will be locked out from voting in the next election. Only Kenyans in the East Africa region shall be in a position to vote. The voter registration in other countries was suspended due to logistics and constraints of time, the commission saw it prudent and tenable to start with East Africa.

To counter this, Kenyans living abroad promised to sue the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission for restricting diaspora voters’ registration to the East African Community and South Africa. The Kenya Diaspora Alliance, said the electoral agency was failing to implement a Supreme Court directive issued in 2015, to ensure diaspora Kenyans participate in elections.

5TH Feb: IEBC to clean up voter register Information released by IEBC indicated that three counties - Nairobi, Kisumu and Kiambu lead as areas with shared identification numbers. Nairobi has 7,441 people with shared ID numbers. The Electoral Commission reported that only 21,149 voters had IDs with the same number while 57,603 had registered with IDs that do not match those in the registration bureau. The Commission will notify and request voters with shared National Identification Numbers to rectify their details.

14th Feb: Court nullifies Sh2.5bn ballot paper tender The electoral commission warned that its preparations for the August elections had been thrown into uncertainty after the High Court nullified a Sh2.5 billion tender awarded to a Dubai-based to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing firm for printing ballot papers. IEBC criticized the courts since such rulings may put preparations for the next election in jeopardy. The ruling coalition –Jubilee-criticized the rulings too and threatened to reduce the powers of the judiciary.

23rd Feb: Cord dissolved to form Nasa
A number of opposition leaders agreed to dissolve Cord to form National Super Alliance (NASA). The coalition was formed without announcing elements of power sharing. The opposition leaders hinted a possibility of amending a constitution to have more positions in order to accommodate all the opposition leaders.

Shortly afterwards, the electoral agency met the newly unveiled NASA leaders at its Anniversary Towers Headquarters in Nairobi. The leaders of opposition sought answers on what they term as unfair voter listing in the mass voter registration. Identity card sharing which poses a threat on free and fair election was also on the agenda.

24th Feb: Court suspends law on party hopping Through a case by the Council of Governors, politicians are now at liberty to freely defect from one party to another until 45 days to the August 8 General Election. This comes after the High Court on Thursday temporarily suspended implementation of a law that tames politicians from party hopping in the run up to the polls.

Elsewhere, IEBC Chairman okayed presidential campaigns, Wafula Chebukati, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission chairman, said that there is no law that stops any politician from campaigning.

January 2017

March 10, 2017 (6 months, 2 weeks ago)

3rd Jan: New IEBC Commissioners Ushered Into Office

The commissioners to replace to the outgoing electoral agency commissioners were finally nominated. Wafula Chebukati replaced Isaac Hassan as the Chair of the commission. Kenyans were given a chance to air their views on the suitability of the nominees for the positions before vetting by National Assembly’s Justice and Legal Affairs Committee. Later on, Chebukati and the other commissioners were approved to lead the electoral agency. Administering oath of office to the new Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) team, Chief Justice David Maraga urged them to ensure credible polls as the country’s future and stability was in their hands.

9th Jan: Controversy on Use of a Manual Back-up system in the Elections Resolved After the debate on elections laws ended in acrimony in the lower House, the Senate conducted a public hearing on the said laws where various stakeholders submitted their views. Governors joined the electoral reforms debate, stating that they are opposed to any attempt to have a manual back up in the next elections.

On the other hand religious groups under the umbrella of Inter-Faith Council of Kenya supported the inclusion of a manual backup system in the forthcoming general elections in case technology fails. The position by the religious groups faced a backlash from politicians in the opposition stating partisanship on the side of religious groups.

The IEBC refuted claims that they are planning to use a manual system in the next election. The Commission revealed they are compiling biometric information of all voters such as fingerprints to use as a back-up in case of technology failure.

Jan 6th: The law on campaign finance suspended as IEBC awaits direction on party primaries management

The High Court suspended the implementation of a law requiring political aspirants to submit their campaign finance and management information to the electoral agency. The application was filed by the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) which complained that the requirement raises fundamental constitutional issues. Meanwhile, Treasury revealed it could be pressured to facilitate the electoral commission to fund party primaries to the tune of Sh3 billion ahead of the August General Election. However, actual allocation would be dependent on the number of political parties that approach IEBC for the services. The law authorizing the IEBC to manage political party primaries is not in place yet, though.

16th Jan: Second Mass Voter registration Kicks Off Countrywide

The second Mass Voter Registration kicked off countrywide, with the IEBC seeking to list six million Kenyans. The registration started with no hinderances reported. President Uhuru Kenyatta and Cord leader Raila Odinga moved to the strongholds to mobilise their supporters to turn out in large numbers and enlist in readiness for the August elections.

President Uhuru Kenyatta asked electoral agency to trace and follow pastoralists to register them. To those without birth certificates, the President said that the administrators should write the youth letters in order to enable them to get IDs without being asked questions. Many youth don’t have these certificates but chiefs should ensure they get their IDs.

Transfer of registered voters will now be done at the constituency level and not at the ward level. The decision was made after a massive 700,000 registered voters applied for polling stations transfer in the previous mass voter registration conducted from February to March 2016. Pastoralists in Marsabit County have opposed this directive saying that the requirement infringes on voters' rights. Pastoralists may not be able to change polling stations as they keep moving in search of water and pasture for their livestock.

The need for voter education was underlined after it emerged that some old men from Tetu constituency in Nyeri County have kept away from the just-started massive voter registration, fearing that biometric voter registration (BVR) machines might expose their past crimes. Apart from Nyeri, the fear of BVR kits may be rife especially in areas where Kenyans are superstitious.

Even after reported low voter turnout the electoral agency has refused to use ID “waiting cards” for voter registration. The commission said that there is a potential for abuse and double registration if waiting cards were to be used. The IEBC warned politicians against forcing Kenyans to register as voters during the ongoing process. The commission asserted that it was unlawful for politicians to deny Kenyans their rights just because they are not registered as voters.

After the mass voter registration was announced, the Opposition called off the planned street demos to concentrate on rallying their supporters to register as voters. IEBC CEO later said that Kenya could be set for failure if politicians don’t build trust and rally Kenyans towards respecting institutions ahead of the General Election. He blamed politicians for the high level of mistrust about the electoral process in Kenya. He said politicians will always want to pursue short-cuts to realize their goals, even if it means breaking the law.

26th Jan: Katiba Institute Goes to Court over Gender Rule A civil society organization moved to court seeking an order to compel the IEBC to reject nomination lists of leaders for the posts of MPs and Senators if parties do not comply with the two thirds gender rule. In the case documents, Katiba Institute wants Political parties that are non-compliant with the two thirds gender constitutional requirement to be barred from participating in the elections of leaders in the National Assembly and the Senate.

27th Jan: Opposition Leaders Raise Voter registration Queries over: Shared IDs & Registration of Diaspora Voters Wiper party leader Kalonzo Musyoka was outraged to find out his national identity card number had registered somebody else as a voter. The sharing of IDs between Kalonzo and Salome Wanjiru Njoroge was detected when he visited a voter registration centre at Wagberi Primary School in Wajir East constituency during his tour of Wajir County. An investigation was launched to establish how this had occurred. The commission confirmed that there are other cases of shared ID numbers in the voter’s register. Raila Odinga has been consistently asking IEBC to inspect the voter register to weed out what he alleges to be 1.5 million dead voters, who usually vote in every election.

Meanwhile, a rift emerged between the Opposition and the government on plans to register Kenyans in the diaspora as voters. The Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) demanded the suspension of the registration — expected to begin in February — saying the numbers could be used to manipulate the elections. The party’s Director of Elections Junet Mohammed asked IEBC to clarify the figures involved. Most Kenyans living abroad say they would like to vote by electronic means if a given chance to participate. A new survey conducted for the Kenya Diaspora Alliance shows that as many as eight in every ten people polled want to cast their ballots over the internet, in what could challenge Kenya’s future laws on voting.

Further, it has become apparent the cost of the General Election could go up significantly because of the legal requirement that results be transmitted electronically. The IEBC’s Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba said the decision on what technology would be used in areas without adequate mobile phone coverage is yet to be made. He added that the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee had asked the IEBC to prepare guidelines on how they would implement the requirement for technology in the registration and identification of voters and the transmission of results. IEBC is exploring the possibility of using satellite technology to support transmission of results, especially in areas where internet connectivity is low.

Elsewhere, foreign diplomats in Kenya called for a free and fair General Election in August. In a joint statement, 25 ambassadors and high commissioners said that mishandling the process is likely to trigger violence similar to 2007-2008 when a dispute between PNU presidential candidate Mwai Kibaki and ODM’s Raila Odinga almost drove the country into civil conflict.

December 2016

Jan. 21, 2017 (8 months ago)

2nd Dec: Government re-assures the independence of IEBC selection panel: The government through its spokesperson Eric Kiraithe said that the re-advertisement of the IEBC chair was an independent decision by the selection panel. He added that the panel is keen on selecting a person who shall enjoy the confidence of all Kenyans.

4th Dec: New elections laws jitters aspirants: Laws on fundraising and campaign financing by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) took effect causing worry among aspirants of various political positions. The rules bars all aspirants from contributing in Harambees from December 8.

Other provisions state that an aspirant in the next election ought to have campaign bank accounts and a team of authorized people who will manage the finances. On the other hand IEBC is in a dilemma on whether to implement the regulations since they are yet to be approved by Parliament.

4th Dec: A section of Jubilee MPs wants primaries coordinated from Nairobi: A section of Jubilee MPs suggested that Jubilee party nominations should be coordinated at the National level and not at the county levels. In their opinion, this would avert wrangles emerging from the primaries. Party primaries in Kenya are known to be chaotic and shambolic. This is usually the origin of many party fallouts.

6th Dec: Cooperate with IEBC for smooth elections: A section of Jubilee MPs accused Mr. Odinga of intimidating the electoral agency. In particular they took issue with the persistent claim that they plan to rig the August 8th elections. In preparation of August elections, a multi-agency security team shall be set up to avoid violence during after 2017 general elections. The agencies include the electoral commission, Director of Prosecutions, Directorate of Criminal Investigations and the police.

The electoral Commission has gone ahead to order all politicians to pull down banners and billboards erected as campaign period hasn’t officially started. IEBC has warned politicians of heavy penalties as early campaigns equals to misconduct and violations of election laws. Early campaigns have put Kenya in a tensed mood since campaigns are always vicious in Kenya.

6th Dec: The election to cost Sh 30 billion: The August 8th general elections shall cost tax payers Ksh 30 billion. The IEBC chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba exudes confidence that the commission will account for each shilling allocated to them. The commission’s target is to have 22 million registered voters before the election. Currently there are only 15.8 million registered voters.

8th Dec: Panel needs time to select credible candidates: NCCK and KHRC appealed to Kenyans to give the panel ample time in order to select the suited candidates to fill the vacant positions in the electoral agency. In a court case regarding the interviews, the court ordered the IEBC selection panel to interview two candidates who had applied for the position of IEBC commissioners. The two candidates had not been shortlisted. Their inclusion into interviews comes after a Kenyan filed a case asking the court to halt the recruitment process until the panel reveals the criteria used in shortlisting the candidates for the interview. After a successful recruitment process the president handed over the nominees to Parliament for further vetting. Parliament is expected to debate the appointment of the nominees on January 17th, 2017.

9th Dec: Controversy over campaign finance rules: The Justice and Legal Affairs committee disagreed with the IEBC over the campaign financing rules. ODM moved to court to challenge the campaign finance rules. The party is asking the court to annul the IEBC Gazette notice on the rules. ODM argues that the rules are unconstitutional since Parliament hasn’t drafted regulations to implement the Campaign Finance Act.

14th Dec: Auditing of voters register: Clergymen asked IEBC to clarify on the dates they intend to conduct an audit on the voter register. The religious leaders said that mass voter registration ought to be preceded by the audit. In a rejoinder the electoral agency responded that the delayed audit was on course. The delay was caused by the tendering requirements where KPMG East Africa won the tender. It is worth to note that the opposition opposes KPMG’s capacity to audit the voter register citing the company’s inexperience in such a task. The audit was supposed to be completed on January 3 but the dates have been extended to February 17. The dates to hold political parties nominations were also reduced. The audit was commissioned after Cord claimed that the register contains ghost voters.

16th Dec: Political bickering dragging implementation of electoral laws: Political wrangling between CORD and Jubilee on election laws has put the electoral agency in a dilemma. Jubilee party went to the court challenging sections of the electoral laws. Jubilee remains keen on having a manual back up to compliment the biometric voter identification and electronic results transmission. CORD is adamant on retaining both processes as electronic, regardless. This contestation was witnessed in Parliament where the lower house engaged in a fist fight. The electoral laws were passed in both houses but the opposition isn’t satisfied.

19th Dec: Jubilee’s onslaught on donor funds: A group of Jubilee lawmakers demanded the IEBC tables the amount of money they have received from donors and the employees seconded to them by the donors. The demands came after President Kenyatta complained about donors giving too much money in order to influence the forthcoming general elections. So far Western donors have refuted the allegation of scheming to influence the next general election.

The NGO board went ahead to suspend the activities of International Foundation for Electoral Systems, which offers assistance to the IEBC and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) for civic education. The suspension didn’t last long as it was overturned by the court.

November 2016

Dec. 12, 2016 (9 months, 2 weeks ago)

8th Nov: Rumours of an Attempt by MPs to postpone next elections: According to media reports MPs were exploring the possibility to push the date for the next elections following the amendment of a law that has made it difficult for the electoral commission to meet deadlines ahead of the 2017 polls.

11th Nov: Jubilee and Cord officials disagree over draft election regulations: The ruling coalition and opposition leaders disagreed over the draft election regulations developed by the electoral body to guide next year’s polls. Cord officials said that they will not allow the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to buy election technology equipment if the regulations are not subjected to broad consultations.

16th Nov: Jubilee wants IEBC to fund its primaries: Jubilee Party wants the IEBC to finance the nomination of its candidates. The fear of fraud in party primaries has necessitated Jubilee Party to ask the Commission to help it in conducting their primaries. Naomi Shaban, Jubilee’s National Assembly Majority Deputy Leader also asserted that parties in Kenya are incapable of conducting free and fair primaries especially in their strongholds. Kenya has a history of carrying out shambolic party primaries.

On the other hand, the electoral agency said that it would not mind funding the party primaries if Parliament agreed to allocate resources for the polls. The commission is also developing guidelines for party nominations. But a section of IEBC top leadership is cautious about accepting the proposal to conduct political party nominations. This follows a warning that getting entrapped in internal party affairs may take away the momentum from the commission as an independent arbiter and erode public confidence in the outfit before the General Election in August. As Jubilee remains keen on its primary being conducted by IEBC, the Orange Democratic Movement maintained that it will use its elections board to conduct its primaries and not the national electoral agency, ODM National Elections Board.

20th Nov: Cord and Jubilee Party to be included in a case on tender for ballot papers: The electoral commission lost its bid to block Cord and Jubilee Party from being enjoined in a case where a South African printer contests the award of a tender to Al Ghurair. The Sh2.5 billion tender to print the next election’s ballot paper was awarded to Al Ghurair, a Dubai based firm. In enjoining the two coalitions Public Procurement Administrative Review Board chairman Paul Gicheru said that the coalitions have a right to participate in the case. IEBC had initially said that the two coalitions had no business engaging in the conflict between the two firms. CORD seeks to have the tender cancelled.

23rd Nov: Control Political Parties’ Expenditure: Senator Mong’are of Nyamira has chided the huge expenditure by political parties ahead of 2017 elections. The senator who announced his ambitions to become the President of Kenya filed an urgent suit to compel the Registrar of Political Parties to publicize the sources of funds received by registered political parties. Senator Mong’are also said that the registrar has not published the full list of political parties as the country heads into the election year. Neither has she made public details of how she has distributed money set aside in the budget to cater for operations of parties.

23rd Nov: Diaspora voting is unlikely due to insufficient of information: The Elections Observation Group pointed out that there is inadequate information on Kenyans living abroad. The information is key in preparing Kenyans in diaspora to vote in the 2017 elections. ELOG’s chairman said the available information is conflicting. For instance the number of total Kenyans in diaspora isn’t established. In addition, there isn’t clearly defined role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and IEBC in the matter of diaspora voting. The inconsistencies cited by ELOG have led to Orange Democratic Movement’s objection of diaspora voting.

24th Nov: Corruption and tribalism prevents free and fair polls: Deep-rooted corruption, tribalism, opacity among institutions entrusted on elections stand on the way of free and fair elections in Kenya. A report by the National Crime Research Centre titled 'Election Crimes and Offences in Kenya' showed that corruption among politicians was highest at 33.8% in election matters followed by responsible institutions at 21.4 %. NCRC has recommended the conducting civic education: on voter registration, their rights and good leadership and maintenance of law and order. The institution proposed promotion of patriotism, national unity and stiff penalties for those who violate electoral laws and as the possible solutions to hindrances. NCRC also wants the prosecution and sentencing of electoral crimes and offences to be strengthened at the point of arrest, gathering of evidence, prosecution and sentencing with the Director of Public Prosecution and Judiciary playing a role.

24th Nov: No more quick degrees for politicians: President Kenyatta made it difficult for politician who are rushing to acquire quick degrees to meet the academic requirements for aspirants. President Kenyatta directed the Ministry of education to ensure that everyone meets the minimum admission requirements. In order to graduate one must attend their lessons and meet with lecturers. Politicians have been rushing to acquire a degree within the shortest time possible in order to run for office in the next election.

26th Nov: Selection panel temporarily stops enlistment of IEBC Chair: The failure of Ethics and Anti- Corruption Commission to clear five shortlisted candidates for the position of Independent Election and Boundaries Commission led to the temporal stopping of their recruitment. The selection panel had to re-advertise the position after significant issues were raised on the first five shortlisted candidates.

30TH Nov: Roll out 3G Network Countrywide before elections date: Parliament directed the Communications Authority of Kenya to roll out a 3G network countrywide to be used in the 2017 elections, in a raft of proposals to right the many wrongs in the 2013 poll. Currently, only 17 per cent of the country is 3G enabled yet equipment for the August 8 elections will use the network to transmit scanned copies of results to constituency tallying centres.

October 2016

Nov. 11, 2016 (10 months, 2 weeks ago)

New Chief Justice and Deputy Chief Justice selected Pending Parliamentary approval

After the Judicial Service Commission nominated Justice Maraga as the next Kenya’s Chief Justice, President Uhuru Kenyatta forwarded his name to the National Assembly for grilling, paving his way to become Kenya’s 15th Chief Justice. The Supreme Court which he shall head has the exclusive constitutional mandate to determine presidential election petitions.

Shortly afterwards, the Judicial Service Commission also nominated Justice Philomena Mbete Mwilu for the position of Deputy Chief Justice. Justice Mwilu is a Court of Appeal judge. She has served in the Judiciary for 32 years.

IEBC select panel takes shape: As MPs resume duties from a short recess, they will establish the Independent Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Commissioners selection panel. The panel shall comprise five nominees from religious organisations and four from the Parliamentary Service Commission. Selection of a new polls team became necessary after the current team quit after allegations of corruption.

The list of persons in the IEBC recruiting panel was completed after Jubilee nominated lawyers Evans Monari and Mary Caren Kigen-Sorobit to the panel. Cord nominated Ogla Karani and Justice Tom Mbaluto. The four joined Rev Canon Peter Karanja (National Council of Churches of Kenya General), Prof Abdulghafur El-Busaidy (Supreme Council of Kenyan Muslims), and Bernadette Musundi (Catholic Church).

Others are Bishop David Oginde who is representing the Evangelical Churches of Kenya and Ravindra Bhurma for the Hindu Council of Kenya. The Public Service Commission (PSC) will submit the names to the President, setting in motion the recruitment exercise.The IEBC is likely to get new commissioners by mid-December according to plans by the selection panel.

October 7: Stage set for hiring of new polls team: The IEBC selection team advertised a call for applications from qualified people to fill the vacant positions of IEBC Commissioners. The applicant’s names and their qualifications will be published in The Kenya Gazette, two newspapers and on the website of Parliament. The panel shall then consider, shortlist and interview the applicants in public. The panel shall then select two persons qualified for the position of chairman and nine as commissioners and forward these to the President, who will then nominate one person for chairman and six for members. The list of nominees will then be forwarded to the National Assembly.

Jitters about the 2017 Election Plans, Voter Register Audit and Voter Registration: State House assured Kenyans that the government is on top of things with regard to the 2017 general elections. The assurance followed concerns raised by the civil society and the opposition on the ability of the government to meet the electoral timelines. The worries are aggravated by the fact that the Electoral Commission commissioners are yet to be nominated.

Also of concern is that, the IEBC may be forced into direct procurement of election materials worth billions of shillings to meet the tight timelines as set out in the law. Should procurement timelines be adhered to, the IEBC will overshoot the deadline by 10 days. According to the Justice and Legal Affairs Committee, any Kenyan could go to court to stop the process on the grounds of violating the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, which takes precedence over the new Elections (Amendment) Act, with the former providing for open tendering.

Additionally, the Centre for Multi-party Democracy, a civil society group raised red flags over a section of electoral laws prone to abuse by political players. With less than a year to the General Election, the group raised concerns about the loopholes in some of the laws and wants the IEBC to prioritize crafting guidelines for their implementation.

Further, the opposition Cord spoke against hastened auditing of the voter’s register. The opposition says that the old Commissioners must leave office to the new team to conduct the auditing. Senator James Orengo who was in the Joint Select team expressed fears of deliberate intentions to water down the degree of audit the team agreed upon.

On the other hand, the Amani National Congress (ANC) leader Musalia Mudavadi demanded that the voter register be audited. Mudavadi further said the country should utilise data lying at the Registrar of Persons offices, as the move will save the country of billions of shillings.

Furthermore, the ODM opposition party claimed that the government is secretly collaborating with the electoral body to register voters in government political strongholds. Opposition mentioned the Ministry of interior Security, Huduma Centres and the National Registration Bureau to be largely involved in the alleged secret plan. However, the electoral body refuted the claims as false and insisted that it is ensuring that all unregistered eligible voters are registered nationwide.

Elsewhere, a research conducted by Afro- Barometer revealed that, only 26 per cent of Kenyans have faith that votes are fairly counted during elections. According to the research majority of Kenyans are concerned about the fairness of vote counts, corruption during elections, and the safety of voters during campaigns and at the polls.

Academic Qualifications relief for Aspirants in 2017: Aspirants for seats in Parliament and county assemblies will not be required to be degree holders. The requirement has been replaced by at least a certificate earned after secondary education. Only those who did not pursue any education beyond secondary school will be locked out of Parliament or the 47 county assemblies.

At the same time, concerns about Kenyans being over-represented has emerged in public debates. The debate was rekindled by a team led by the Auditor General which suggested a reduction of MPs and MCAs, in order to slash government spending.

Rise of Political Gangs in the Run-Up to 2017: A sudden rise of politically motivated violence and the resurgence of criminal gangs is raising concern about the country’s state of security months to the 2017 General Election. More politicians could be recruiting gangs under the cover of rowdy supporters. This brings the fear of the repeat of 2007. In Kisumu, for instance, police had to fire in the air after youth stormed the County Assembly to stop what they said was a secret impeachment plan against Governor Jack Ranguma. In Murang’a , rival groups — one, with well-built members clad in black suits — clashed over the opening of parallel Jubilee Party offices in Kandara. In Dandora residents say a new gang known as “Sila” is increasingly being used by politicians. In Western Kenya, there is a resurgence of Marachi Republican Council, Mossad, Bulanda Boys and the Men in Black. In Mombasa there is Wakali Kwanza and Wakali Wao gangs. ODM rewards registered party members: ODM embarked on a massive voter mobilisation and dishing out cash to the newly registered members. In the plan, wards with the highest number of registered party members will be rewarded with Sh1 million. To set the pace, Kisumu Governor Jack Ranguma donated Sh1 million to be given to the ODM ward office with highest number of registered voters. The cheque was presented to Mombasa governor and ODM deputy party leader, Hassan Joho, at the Christ is the Answer Ministries (CITAM) in Kisumu town. The mobilisation comes at a time when the National Registration Bureau has reported that over 60,000 ID cards have not been collected from various registration bureaus across former Nyanza province.

Kenya scales the charts on governance despite corruption challenge: A Mo Ibrahim Foundation report has shown that Kenya has improved in governance over the past 10 years. Kenya is ranked 12th out of 54 countries in overall governance, with a score of 59 per cent, a 5.1 improvement.

These findings are startling given Kenyan’s reluctance to prosecute leaders implicated in corruption. A case in point is the fact that the IEBC commissioners exit office without a word from the Director Public Prosecutions. This is even after he received a file from The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission on the “Chicken gate” scandal. In the file, recommendations for prosecutions were made on the former CEO and three other junior officials at the IEBC. The same file exonerated officials who were largely mentioned in a London case which secured convictions. In fact, the commissioners signed a deal to vacate after they were given sizeable send-off package.