Kenya’s electoral body in a storm over ballot paper deal
The Greek company that won the contract to print ballot papers for Kenya’s Aug. 9 election began delivering the same in Nairobi on Thursday, even as presidential candidate Raila Odinga sought to tie its officials to the rival-led coalition by Vice President William Ruto.
Mr Odinga’s coalition – Azimio La Umoja One Kenya Coalition – has sensationally alleged a conspiracy involving officials of Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA Holding and the electoral commission to rig the August 9 presidential vote in favor of his opponent by printing surplus ballots to be piled up at various polling stations.
His allies earlier this week leaked letters exchanged between Senator Moses Wetang’ula, a senior member of the vice president’s campaign team, and the Greek embassy in Nairobi requesting a travel visa for an associate for a business trip months before the signing of the ballot printing contract. awarded. Odinga’s campaign also alleged that private meetings had taken place between Mr Wetang’ula and Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
Mr. Wetang’ula and Mr. Chebukati have denied any involvement in rigging the tender to print ballots for the Greek company or in a ballot box stuffing plot.
Mr. Chebukati, who is due to preside over a second election to head the Electoral Commission, has warned politicians against profiling Electoral Commission officials and undermining the credibility of the institution just a month from now. ballot boxes.
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Mr. Wetang’ula and Mr. Chebukati are both from Bungoma County in western Kenya.
The current stalemate reflects bitter exchanges around preparations for the last election in 2017, when Mr Odinga also claimed that Dubai ballot printer Al Ghurair had links to the ruling Jubilee Party leadership.
The electorate is desperate to restore the public trust it lost after the Supreme Court overturned the results of the 2017 presidential election.
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The judges reserved their harshest criticism for the IEBC, citing its clumsiness in transmitting the results and tallying the votes.
The IEBC is also no stranger to public procurement scandals, with infighting over contracts reportedly forcing its former chief executive and three commissioners to resign in 2018.
Mr Chebukati is just one of three survivors from the team that presided over the 2017 elections after another commissioner fled to the United States after days of death threats during the rehearsal of the October 26, 2017 presidential election. The recruitment of four new commissioners last September brought some semblance of order to the IEBC, but that was not enough to allay suspicion.
As well as questioning the latest ballot printing contract, Mr Odinga has in recent weeks escalated his demand for the IEBC to provide a manual voter register at polling stations for backup voter identification. in the event of failure of the biometric kit.
The election body initially said it would only use electronic voter ID, but recently appeared to soften its stance.