NAIROBI, August 29 – The Chairman of the Independent Review Commission (IREC) Justice Johann Kriegler Friday came to the defence of the Electoral Commission of Kenya over allegations that it participated in top-level fraud during last year’s polls and shifted blame to politicians and the citizenry.
Kriegler rejected a testimony by a caucus of the civil society, the Kenya for Peace, Truth and Justice (KPTJ), that Mwai Kibaki’s re-election was premeditated by the electoral body.
KPTJ’s researcher Dr Karuti Kanyinga, had claimed that President Kibaki’s votes had been bloated.
He told the Inquiry that a total of 325,000 presidential votes in 130 constituencies were suspicious and further raised concerns about discrepancies between the number of presidential and parliamentary votes in some constituencies.
Dr Kanyinga argued that the 325,000 doubtful votes were significant considering that Kibaki was declared winner with a margin of 231,728 votes.
Commission Chairman Johann Kriegler however faulted the findings questioning how KPTJ arrived at the figures since they had not obtained them from form 16As.
“The kind of crime that your organisation was guilty of is, you say fraud, you say rigging and everybody follows you; and that’s one of the reasons why people get killed in this country at elections,” the Chairman retorted.
He told Dr Kanyinga that although their five-month inquiry had identified grievous mistakes by polling officers, there was nothing pointing at ECK plans to rig the elections.
The Chairman added that there were various gaps in the electoral laws in the country, which he said needed to be addressed by Kenyans.
“To report a crime such as bribery and intimidation of voters requires the citizens to do their duty, it requires responsible political leaders to do their duty; it requires security officers to do their job, none of that is done,” Kriegler voiced.
“I suggest to you that to look for fraud at the KICC is to look for the wrong person.”
KPTJ had teamed up with the Orange Democratic Movement and European Union observers in objection of the results and accused the ECK of colluding to rig the poll.
Kriegler has all along stated that his was not an inquiry into who won the elections but rather to identify necessary reforms.
ECK chair Samuel Kivuitu, Commissioner Jack Tumwa and Secretary Suleiman Chege have already testified and absolved the electoral body from any malpractices.
At least six returning officers have appeared before IREC and admitted making errors during the exercise.
IREC wound up its proceedings and gave the lawyers up to Wednesday to make their submissions. It will on Friday next week meet the lawyers for a discussion before drafting its final report.