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Kenyan Electoral Body Seeks Improvements in Next Year’s Polls

  • Peter Clottey

FILE - Election clerks go through the retallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order related to a presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, March 26, 2013.

FILE - Election clerks go through the retallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order related to a presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, March 26, 2013.

A leading member of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission said the group wants to improve the administration of next year’s general election.

The constitution requires that elections be held August 8, 2017. IEBC officials said they have been engaging with stakeholders to address their concerns in the run-up to the election.

Yusuf Nzibo of the IEBC said the commission was working with international partners to help correct some of the challenges the group faced during the 2013 elections.

“We are looking for support from international organizations such as the American IFES [International Foundation for Electoral Systems] ... to help us in terms of improving on the technology," Nzibo said, adding that there are two particular areas of concern: results transmission and voter identification equipment. "The equipment we had, unfortunately, arrived late and there were challenges with the batteries,” Nzibo said.

“We’ve also engaged the various political parties and other stakeholders in terms of taking them through our preparation," he added. An election preparation plan "spells out what should be done from now until the 8th of August.”

Nzibo’s remarks came after political opponents and some civil society groups protested at IEBC offices. The groups said the electoral body failed to administer credible elections in 2013, and they demanded that it be dissolved and reconstituted.

Bishops' concern

Their demands came after the Catholic Bishops of Kenya expressed concern about reports of tribalism and corruption at the IEBC. At a recent state-of-the-nation address, the priests called on the IEBC to meet the stakeholders to address concerns and ease tensions before the election.

Nzibo said the protesters had contended that problems with the transmission of results from polling stations to the main election headquarters in Nairobi undermined the integrity of the electoral process. But he noted that the opposition parties had accepted the decision of the Supreme Court after election outcomes were legally challenged. The opposition parties, he said, apparently wanted to score political points before next year’s vote.

“It’s interesting in that what is being contested is the presidential election," Nzibo said. "We held six elections on one day ... and in all those elections, nobody came out and said, 'I was not elected fairly.' They all accepted. Secondly, where we had by-elections for one reason or another, the same verdict was returned by the voters. So, 90 percent of the by-elections we did had the same results.”

Despite problems with the voting results transmission, "there has not been one complaint to say that the results that were announced at the polling station were different from the ones which were announced in Nairobi," Nzibo said.

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