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May 01, 2013

Electoral Commission Criticized for Kenya Balloting Dispute

by Peter Clottey

Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC) has come under criticism after the Supreme Court confirmed the electoral victory of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

But IEBC Commissioner Yusuf Nzibo says the criticisms are unjustified because the commission faced various challenges during the March general election.

Critics say the IEBC oversaw a flawed voting process, which they contend led to an election dispute that was finally settled by the Supreme Court. They also said the electoral commission failed to adequately educate voters in the run up to the vote. Nzibo disagrees.

“The turnout was historical. We have never had such a huge turnout, which was over 86 percent. In some areas, it was actually 95 percent,” Nzibo said.

“Look at the number of spoiled votes. They were really minimal, taking into account that people had to cast their vote six times,” said Nzibo. “So to a large extent, we as a commission are very satisfied with the way we organized [the vote] even though we also do admit that there were challenges.” 

He said IEBC officials were cooperating with the anti-graft agency, which is investigating the acquisition of voting equipment for the elections.

“Following the direction of the Supreme Court, there are people who are investigating how we procured these equipment and therefore we are cooperating with them,” continued Nzibo. “We are also doing our own internal evaluation and auditing about what went right [and] what went wrong.”

Nzibo’s comments came after former Prime Minister Raila Odinga said the IEBC cannot be trusted to credibly administer the next general election.

Nzibo said the electoral commission expects to improve its operations in future elections.

“We have asked our partners, including the UNDP [United Nations Development Program] to get an expert in IT [information technology] because that [election] day it was an IT related problem, to come and do a thorough internal investigation in order for us to improve,” said Nzibo. “We are sitting down to look at those challenges and how to overcome them and we are saying we are open. We are welcoming anybody who is willing to come and also do an investigation.”

Nzibo denied there were deliberate attempts by IEBC officials to sway the presidential vote for Mr. Kenyatta.

“What we are saying is that there was no fishy business except the technology at some point failed us,” said Nzibo.
Clottey interview with IEBC Commissioner Ambassador Yusuf Nzibo