News / Africa

Kenya Law Society to investigate Disputed Election

Election clerks go through the re-tallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order in the ongoing presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 26, 2013. Election clerks go through the re-tallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order in the ongoing presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 26, 2013.
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Election clerks go through the re-tallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order in the ongoing presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 26, 2013.
Election clerks go through the re-tallying of votes after the Kenya Supreme Court issued an order in the ongoing presidential poll petition in Kenya's capital Nairobi, March 26, 2013.
Peter Clottey
The chairman of Kenya’s Law Society (KLS) says his organization has established a committee to investigate the East African country’s disputed March 4 general election.

The committee, says chairman Eric Mutua, will examine what he described as the mass failure of electronic technology during the elections administered by the Independent Electoral and Boundary Commission (IEBC).

He says the investigating committee will determine the circumstances that led to the reported failure of the technology system used to identify voters and transmit the vote count back to election headquarters.

"The committee has the mandate to look at the entire electoral system. [It] will look at what could have gone wrong, including the question of the failure of the electronic transmission system," said Mutua.

"We’ve made this decision," he continued, "based on the fact that as much as there is petition in court to challenge the elections, we believe that the judgment of the Supreme Court may not be comprehensive enough in terms of coming up with a report and talking about specifically what IEBC may have omitted to do, or may have committed whether deliberately or not."

The committee is set to begin its inquiry next week and would have 45 days to conclude its investigations before submitting its report to the Law Society. The group consists of experts in electoral, human rights and telecommunication law, as well as experts in information technology among others.

Mutua says the committee will come up with recommendations that he says will help strengthen future elections, and sharply reduce voter irregularities or fraud.

“We will also use this report to agitate for impeachment of the [IEBC] commissioners or anybody at the secretariat who may have been complacent to the failures in the systems and also to the manner in which the elections were conducted,” said Mutua.

He says the committee plans to put out advertisements to encourage Kenyans who may have evidence of voter fraud to submit them.

"We are going to share the report with the relevant government agencies, including the police and in the event a crime may have been committed… and including the ethics and anti-corruption commission, in the event there may have been corruption in the procurement of the systems, which failed," said Mutua.

The IEBC declared Uhuru Kenyatta, the son of the country's founding leader, president-elect with 50.07 percent of the vote, enough to avoid a runoff.

But, Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) is challenging the outcome of the presidential vote in the Supreme Court.

The Supreme Court plans to rule on the challenge by Saturday, which is 14 days after the election as enshrined in the constitution.

Clottey interview with Eric Mutua, chairman of Kenya’s Law Society (KLS)
Clottey interview with Eric Mutua, chairman of Kenya’s Law Society (KLS)i
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Comments
     
by: reuben ngume from: rwanda
March 28, 2013 6:23 AM
The LSK should tread carefully; it should not fuel or be perceived to fuel the temperatures in this very sensitive issue. For now LSK should hold its horses, whatever contribution it wants make in the efficiency of the system using the Biometric Kit let it do in a year or two before the next general election. Or what is the hurry? Does it want to be seen that it around, alive, patriotic,useful and active? It is the wrong time for that. It's not time for showdown and trying to outsmart the other group.

It's now time for humility, reconciliation,reaching out to the other brother or sister in the spirit of unity and nation-hood. It's not time for chest-thumping but time to weigh every word and deed. If LSK is patriotic and desires the well being of Kenya let it shelf this undertaking for at least 3 or 4 years.

by: John from: USA
March 27, 2013 7:08 PM
Kenya does not need gasoline poured on smoldering ethnic rivalries. What is happening is that the Supreme Court will make a ruling and then, 45 days later, this group will come up with a report that may or may not support that ruling. What happens if it doesn't.

There are procedural problems. The investigation will rely on hearsay evidence. They won't have the power of subpoena or be empowered to take sworn testimony. Looking at "what could have happened" is vague and conjectural. Investigations by government authorities have not been done well (I'm being kind). Does this mean that an outside organization should take on the responsibilities of the police and the public prosecutor.

Yes, someone should look at failures of the electronic systems but investigations of highly technical events should be done by technical experts. The value will be in identifying "lessons learned". There is no rush; there won't be another election for five years. And yes, someone should look at any irregularities in the procurement process and if there was fraud it should be prosecuted. Again, there is no rush.

Agreed that there is a reason to investigate both of these areas but, the Supreme Court decision will already have determined if they had any effect on the outcome of the election so delving into that aspect will be of no use and will actually be harmful. I hope that the LSA treads carefully.

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