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Mixed reactions greet manual voter registration

NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 1 – Education Minister Mutula Kilonzo has faulted the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) decision to use manual voter registration terming it as ‘embarrassing’.

Speaking at a prize giving day at Pangani Girls High School, Kilonzo said manual registers would re-introduce ghost voters and discredit the poll process.

“It’s embarrassing… in fact I wanted Kenya to not only have electronic voter registration but also electronic voting. It’s the only way to eliminate dead voters. Kenya is renowned for voter resuscitation more than Jesus! During elections dead people come to vote and people move voters from one location to another which is completely unacceptable,” he said.

He urged Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa to intervene immediately to avoid the crisis that will crop up during the much awaited March 4 General Elections.

He added that we should avoid the recurrence of post election violence.

“I urge Wamalwa to intervene and offer leadership in this area. Kenya cannot afford to go to elections where you open a window for allegations of rigging, vote theft and vote fraud. His Ministry’s mandate is to eliminate this concepts and avoid them from been brought up again,” Mutula added.

“Parliament had voted money for electronic voter registration, to go back it will be taking Kenya back to; if you have won you have rigged and if you loose you have been rigged out,” he explained.

Elsewhere, the Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) welcomed the decision by the IEBC to abandon the acquisition of the Biometric Voter registration kits.

IED says that IEBC should importantly seek to carry out voter registration process in a manner that guarantees integrity.

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The institutes’ chairperson Jane Ogot says that the preparations for the elections should be held in an environment free of suspicion and which reinforces confidence.

“IED believes that Kenya cannot afford to go to the next General Election in an environment of suspicion, controversy and hostility. Everything has to be done to obliterate the notion that we could go to an election whose credibility and integrity is in doubt,” Ogot told journalists at the institute’s offices.

“We therefore urge IEBC and stakeholders to proceed with due diligence guided by the law and the principles of accountability,” she asserted.

IED’s Executive Director Peter Aling’o insisted that despite the challenges associated with the manual voter registration IEBC must guarantee the integrity of the process.

“We were of the thinking that Biometric Voter Registration was going to help cure the anomalies witnessed in the register of the 2007 elections, but we know that every of these methods has its own shortcomings. The emphasis must now be on the integrity of the process and accountability. The registration must be done in a transparent and professional manner,” he said.

Aling’o challenged the commission to speak with one voice to avoid the perception that it is divided.

The institute has called on politicians and other stakeholders in the election process to stop making statements that could polarise the country.

On Tuesday IEBC dropped plans to acquire Biometric Voter Registration kits and instead settled on the use of Optical Mark Reader in the registration that begins after three by-elections set for September 17 in Kangema, Ndhiwa and Kajiado North.

The Optical Mark Reader was utilised in the 2010 constitutional referendum.

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IEBC intends to employ a large number of clerks for longer periods during the voter registration period and will continue to use Electronic Voter registration where they were piloted.

The pilot project for electronic voter registration covered 18 constituencies of Kamukunji, Langata, Mvita, Malindi, Dujis, Wajir East, Isiolo South, Imenti Central, Mbooni, Nyeri Town, Kikuyu, Eldoret North, Nakuru Town, Ainamoi, Ikolomani, Webuye, Kisumu Town West and Bonchari.

(Maina Mwangi contributed to this story)


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