CORD claims IEBC training NIS officers to register voters

ODM chair John Mbadi
ODM chair John Mbadi addressing a past press conference

The Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) has alleged that there is a scheme by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to deploy National Intelligence Service (NIS) as elections officials.

Addressing the press on Monday, CORD led by Suba MP and ODM chair John Mbadi, Kitui Senator David Musila (Wiper) and Kimilili MP Eseli Simiyu (Ford Kenya) asserted that it had received information of that the commission was training NIS officers to manipulate the numbers.

“IEBC is training NIS officers to be recruited as Presiding officers, Returning Officers and registration clerks with a sole responsibility to manipulate numbers and names in favour of Jubilee.”

“We sense a nasty plan to aid the registration of under-age voters particularly in parts of the country where virtually every eligible voter was registered in 2013 and now has no new voter to add.”

The coalition poked holes at the preparation that the IEBC has put in place ahead of voter registration exercise slated for next month.

They accused the electoral body of unpreparedness in the run up to 2013 saying a lot needs to be done to avoid replicating the same in 2017.

“In the run up to 2013 elections, the IEBC procured only 15,000 BVR kits to be used in some 34,000 polling stations. The distribution of those kits left a lot to be desired,” the leaders said.

“Last week, we challenged the IEBC to come clean on a number of issues ahead of the voter registration that kicks off in about a month. So far, it has remained tight-lipped.”

CORD asserted that IEBC is neither ready to conduct voter registration nor free, fair and credible elections in line with recommendations of the Kriegler Commission and the expectation of Kenyans.

“Since 2013, the IEBC has done nothing to procure more registration kits to cover all polling stations in the country. About 18 months to the elections, and about a month to the first major voter registration since last elections, the IEBC is still stuck with just 15,000 BVR kits, whose status nobody knows,” they said.

The leaders mentioned that representatives of political parties have also voiced their concerns at a meeting convened by IEBC in Naivasha over its ability to present a new and credible plan of action, backed by demonstrable capacity to register voters.

CORD said the electoral body has been unable to explain how it will assign BVR kits to polling stations and has been non-committal to the idea of opening the exercise to international observers.

“IEBC should come clean on the number of registration centres for the February-March voter registration exercise, how those centres have been selected and their distribution across the country and the various constituencies.”

“The commission must also explain the mode of registration; whether manual or biometric keeping in mind that by law, elections are supposed to be conducted through electronic means.”

CORD rejected a perceived plan by the IEBC to deploy one registration kit per ward in parts of the country perceived to be supporting the Opposition, saying the registration should be conducted at the polling station and not ward level.

They said IEBC should demand funding from Supplementary Budget to enable it conduct a credible exercise that meets expectations of the people.

“If the registration exercise will be electronic, and it has to be, we need the IEBC to state the condition of the kits. We cannot rely on the same failed kits of 2013 or another set that has been designed to fail.”

In a rejoinder IEBC Chief Executive Officer Ezra Chiloba dismissed the allegations terming them as fabricated and misleading.

“The commission is utterly concerned and dismayed with the content of the statement issued and will be issuing a detailed statement to the country on the issues,” Chiloba stated.

Extension of IEBC term

Despite calls by CORD urging for the disbandment of IEBC, Jubilee has stated that the commission will stay put and handle the next elections.

National Assembly Majority Leader Aden Duale said Jubilee is planning to extend the term of IEBC by three months to enable them handle the elections and a runoff in case there will be no clear winner.

“The current IEBC can handle the next general election comfortably. The election is on August 8th with the results expected in 7 days. If there are any disputes in the presidential results, the aggrieved party will have 7 days to file their petition at the Supreme Court.”

“The court will have 14 days to listen to the case with the verdict expected on September 6. In case there will be need for a rerun, the parties will have one month to prepare with the elections slated for October 5, 2017.”

The current deadline of the IEBC is slated for November 11, 2017.

“What I want to do is to convince both sides of the House to extend IEBC’s term by between 3 months and 6 months so that they can wind up any petitions and election logistics that may arise.”

“This will ensure that the office does not leave office without handing over to a new team.”

Duale said there is need to carry out the changes through the Legal Affair Committee since the remaining 17 months is a short period to appoint ne commissioners and still be ready for the elections.

He said once an agreement has been reached, a draft bill will be taken to the National Assembly for debate noting that he expects it to mature in three months.

But in a quick rejoinder, IEBC said that “it is utterly concerned and takes great exception with some of the allegations.”

It further said, through a statement to newsrooms, that it is currently carrying out stakeholder engagement with political parties in Naivasha and will issue a comprehensive response to the CORD’s allegations.

By @benjaminwafula

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