Sack Chiloba or we won’t take part in October poll, says Nasa

Wednesday September 13 2017

 Nasa had last week written to the IEBC asking for a stop to the Al Ghurair contract.

Opposition Nasa co-principal Musalia Mudavadi addresses the media outside IEBC offices at Anniversary Towers, Nairobi, on September 12, 2017 where they were supposed to have a joint meeting with IEBC and Jubilee. PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

By PATRICK LANG'AT
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Kenya opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) on Tuesday pegged its participation in the fresh election on the sacking of the electoral commission’s chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba.

It also rejected a blueprint for the October 17 election prepared by the electoral agency Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).

The commission has made various proposals to change the way the election was conducted, mainly in response to Nasa’s conditions.

The re-election of President Uhuru Kenyatta was nullified by the Supreme Court but because the commission did not follow the law in conducting it.

Nasa presidential candidate Raila Odinga accused the commission of failing to meet the conditions set by the opposition and which would have addressed the issues that arose from his successful petition. The full ruling is yet to be given.

The ruling Jubilee Party withdrew the conditions it had spelt out ahead of the poll and said they will not interfere in the commission’s mandate to prepare for the exercise.

Jubilee leaders have frequently accused Nasa of placing roadblocks on elections, claiming that the opposition is not really interested in polls, but in a unity government.

IEBC servers
Mr Odinga and co-principals Kalonzo Musyoka, Musalia Mudavadi and Moses Wetang’ula also gave an ultimatum to the commission to give them access to its servers as ordered by the Supreme Court, ahead of the election.

Speaking during a rally in Kibera in Nairobi, Mr Odinga also called for the publication of responses to an internal memo by the commission’s chairman Wafula Chebukati to Mr Chiloba, seeking clarifications on the irregularities committed in the August 8 elections.

Mr Odinga said the coalition had resolved not to participate in the polls should the commission fail to comply with the directions issued by the Supreme Court.

“We want to tell IEBC that if these conditions are not met, there will be no election come October. IEBC cannot pretend to be united,” Mr Odinga said at Kamkunji grounds.

“The Supreme Court had ordered the commission to give us access to its servers but the commission refused.”

Earlier, the Nasa leaders walked out of an IEBC meeting convened by Mr Chebukati at the commission’s headquarters in Anniversary Towers, protesting a nine-page agenda and Jubilee no-show.

Mr Musyoka said the commission had become complicit and called for the prosecution of its top officials.

“Nasa is opposed to Ezra Chiloba being part of the October elections,” he said.

Mr Mudavadi wondered why Mr Chiloba was sticking to his job at the commission when “the jury is out there that Ezra Chiloba must go because of his role in rigging the elections”.

Al Ghurair
Jubilee backed the commission, saying its independence should be respected by all parties.

The party also backed down from its calls to have nine officials of IEBC axed, while saying its accusations that Mr Chebukati had night meetings with Nasa were “not personal”.

“It is not in our purview to decide staff and other administrative issues for the IEBC. That is the job of the commissioners.

"They went through interviews, and are expected that they can discharge their responsibilities as per the Constitution,” Deputy President William Ruto said.

The commission on Tuesday handed the two political sides its plan for the fresh election in which it gave Mr Chiloba a prominent role and insisted that the Dubai-based Al Ghurair will print the presidential ballot papers.

Forms 34A, B
In its communication by Mr Chebukati, IEBC said it will retain its CEO, as well as a seven-member project team formed by the chairman from the secretariat.

But to correct its mistakes in the annulled August 8 presidential poll, the IEBC has tasked the 290 constituency returning officers to ensure all the original forms 34A and 34B are signed, stamped, and have the set security features before being submitted to the national tallying centre.

The commission has also promised to conduct a full-scale audit of its servers and which will be witnessed by the candidates’ agents.

“Given that the commission already has a framework agreement with Al Ghurair, we intend to proceed with printing (of the ballot papers) with the company,” it said.

Audit

The opposition had last week written to the IEBC asking for a stop to the Al Ghurair contract, the sacking of Mr Chiloba and five other senior members of the secretariat, a full audit of the ICT servers, and an assurance that returning officers who were found guilty of election irregularities are sacked.

On Tuesday, the IEBC granted Nasa its request for an audit of the servers, but insisted that it will stick to Al Ghurair, but with modifications to the contract to ensure the integrity of the ballot papers.

This, Mr Chebukati said, will be assured through the installation of a tracking system that will be accessible to the two candidates, and which will track the ballot papers from the printer, the warehouse, the constituency and finally to the polling stations.

Extra ballot papers

Further, he said, the IEBC will ensure a reduction of extra ballot papers printed by reducing the number of ballot papers per booklet from 50 in the August 8 elections.

Former presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot had in July protested over what he said were 1.2 million extra ballot papers, arising from IEBC’s provision of one per cent extra ballots, that were rounded off to the nearest 50.

“The printer should have seals for each constituency pallet to be witnessed by agents at installation and breaking at each of the 290 constituencies,” Mr Chebukati said.

At the same time, Mr Chebukati, in the agenda document, side-stepped Nasa’s clamour for the sacking of Mr Chiloba, following the formation of a seven-member special project team to be headed by Mr Chiloba’s deputy, Marjan Hussein Marjan.

“The CEO shall make administrative arrangements for the operationalisation of the project team,” he said.

In creating the team, he said on Monday, the IEBC had isolated it for the purpose of the October 17 polls, but with the continued help of the existing structure in the secretariat, including Mr Chiloba as the chief executive.