Can IEBC overcome hurdles to deliver elections?
Just under 19 days to the election and the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission IEBC is under a siege of sorts.
The commission and its leadership are expected to deliver credible elections but struggle to present a credible image of preparedness.
The sheer number of cases currently in court and involving the IEBC and the election are staggering.
There exist separate cases against the the presidential ballot printing tender, the BVR kits, the results transmission process, and the election law-all before the courts for determination and all this with the clock is ticking.
The ballot papers for 5 elected positions arrived in the country on Tuesday, 18th July.
The printing of the remainder still hangs in the air as a dispute over the tender for printing the presidential papers is awaiting determination by the Court of Appeal on Thursday 20th July.
According to the initial IEBC timetable, the printing of the presidential papers ought to have started on the very day the rest arrived in the country- Tuesday 18th July-that hangs in the balance as the IEBC is appealing the decision of the high court over the cancellation of the presidential papers tender, with no indication as to whether the IEBC has moved to re-tender for the presidential papers.
The basis of IEBC’s appeals is that the court’s directive was not practical, as it only affected one elective post and considering the amount of time left to the election.
AFRICOG’s Dr. Gladwell Otieno raised concern over the voters register, moving to court to have the IEBC compelled to make public the voter’s register for every polling station in the country for inspection.
Otieno also wants the IEBC to heed the concerns raised over the register as well as provisions in the law to revise the register, failure to which would hinder a free and fair election.
AFRICOG believes that if the voters register is examined publicly and found satisfactory, the electoral process will be transparent, accountable and accurate.
Therefore, IEBC should be stopped from distributing their current version of the register to returning officers until the register has been satisfactorily scrutinized and approved.
Two other cases face the IEBC concerning BVR kits and the backup system.
The first, filed by activists Maina Kiai, Tirop Kitur, and Khelef Khalifa, challenges the procurement process for the BVR kits. They argue, in a case that also enjoins KEBS, that the BVR kits were not subjected to professional verification before export and may aid rigging of the election.
The second, by the Mapambano Movement, seeks to block the use of manual backup to the electronic system and the revocation of section 44 (a) by declaring it unconstitutional.
Section 44 (a) allows a backup mechanism for identifying voters and transmitting election results.
NASA had also moved to court over the matter, accusing IEBC of failing to ensure there is complementary technology to act as a backup during the elections as required by the law.
NASA, at a hearing on Monday 17th July submitted that the courts should compel IEBC to postpone the election if the electronic backup system is not in place adding that IEBC is mandated to do so under section 55(b) of the election act.
However, IEBC CEO Ezra Chiloba assures the public that the 45,000 KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Election Management System) kits have been properly tested and found to be precise to a 98.8% rate.
Chiloba also released ongoing efforts by IEBC to collaborate with up to 3 mobile network providers and satellite technology providers in electronic transfer of results.
While he admits that that about 8% of the country remains unmapped by the combined mobile and satellite coverage, but contingency plans will have IEBC moving to an area sufficiently covered to relay the results of the affected areas.
Observers are divided over whether or not the election date is in jeopardy, with a lot hanging on the decisions by the courts in the crucial court cases, most of whose decisions are expected this week.
The question of whether or not IEBC is ready for the polls is mine, the answer, however, is yours.