NAIROBI, August 19 – Claims of massive irregularities at the nerve centre of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) during last year’s elections continued on Tuesday with a poll observer testifying that the tallying process was flawed; barely a day after ECK Chair Samuel Kivuitu admitted that some errors were indeed reported.,
Koki Muli who then worked for the Institute of Education in Democracy told the Kriegler-led Commission probing the results that figures forwarded to the KICC tallying centre had been altered, while some of the forms from constituency Returning Officers had glaring arithmetic errors.
She said that at least 16 returning officers had confided in her that they were under pressure to announce the results.
“Some of the Returning Officers were forced to fill the forms at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre as opposed to the constituency tallying centers,” Muli told the Inquiry.
During his evidence on Monday, Kivuitu confessed that an audit carried out by the Commission had shown that there were discrepancies in some of the figures presented by Returning Officers.
16 local observer groups participated in the elections with over 16,000 domestic observers, most of whom discredited the results.
Kivuitu has however criticised the local observers for being partisan in their work, an accusation Muli partly agreed with.
Muli added that she participated in a spot-check ordered by Kivuitu on the night of December 29, which revealed that close to 50 constituencies had their tallies wrongly recorded.
The democracy and elections expert also revealed that she had been hired by ECK to carry out team-building activities to cool down simmering tension between Commissioners.
“The environment under which the new Commissioners were appointed was already polarised,” Muli testified.
She proposed that the number of Commissioners be slashed to a maximum of nine and their appointment de-linked from political leaders. This, she argued, would ensure independence of the electoral body.
The expert recommended that there is need to ensure a stronger presence of the Electoral body at the grassroots and eliminated the current ‘top heavy’ structure.
“Election management is a service provision industry and it must be able to work closely with the people at the grassroots. The current ECK structure does not actually sustain the process of attaining efficient and effective provision of services,” she alluded.
The constitution vests the power to appoint the commissioners solely on the President. In an attempt to involve all political parties in the appointment the parties signed the famous Inter Parties parliamentary group which was never passed into law.
The Kriegler Commission was tasked with the responsibility of proposing necessary legal and constitutional reforms for the country’s electoral process to prevent the recurrence of post-poll skirmishes.
It has already held public hearings across the country and technical workshops on various matters concerning the electoral process.
Its mandate expires next month.