The chief executive officer of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says ballot papers for the presidential vote are ready for the March 4 general election.
James Oswago says the electoral body is ready to conduct a credible election with the full participation of political parties, stakeholders and Kenyans.
“I am confident that the IEBC has the capacity, has the competence, has got the presence of mind, has got the focus and the leadership to conduct a very successful election,” said Oswago.
The IEBC has contracted with Smith & Ouzman, a British-based company, to print the ballot papers, which cover the candidates for president, governors, senators and women’s representative positions.
His comments came after the Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) accused the IEBC of not making adequate preparations to organize a credible election.
“Given the way the commission has conducted itself so far, its ability to be thorough leaves a lot to be desired. The IEBC needs to work closely and impartially with all political parties and build confidence,” said ODM party Secretary-General Peter Anyang’ Nyong’o.
But, Oswago says the IEBC is working with political parties to address their concerns ahead of next month’s vote.
Oswago also says said the IEBC has started moving ballot boxes to various regions across Kenya in preparation for the vote.
Some Kenyans, including Prime Minister Raila Odinga, have expressed concern about possible ballot rigging. Authorities have warned that such rhetoric could create tension and trigger possible violence.
Oswago however dismissed suggestions that the vote could be rigged to favor one side or the other.
"I don’t think people talk about rigging from an informed position,” he said. “And to that extent, what we need to do is to provide the information so that people will understand there [are] measures and counter measures put in place to deal with rigging and other abuses. Perhaps if we do a credible job at that this [concern] will go away.”
Oswago says the IEBC is ready to talk with anyone who has concerns about the March voting.
“We welcome being called upon to explain what we do,” Oswago concluded.