NAIROBI, Kenya, Aug 6 – Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits will now be procured in a government-to-government arrangement, in a move to ensure faster delivery in time for the March 2013 general election.
The decision to use the BVR kits was made after a three-hour meeting between President Mwai Kibaki, Prime Minister Raila Odinga and officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC).
It was also agreed that amendments would be made to the Elections Act, to reduce the period for closure of the voters register from 90 days to 45 days before the elections.
“The commission requested that the BVR be procured through a government-to-government arrangement. We are glad to inform Kenyans that the government has accepted the commission’s request and has committed to procure and deliver the kits on time for the exercise,” a statement from IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan said.
The meeting was also attended by Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, Deputy Prime Minister Musalia Mudavadi, Ministers Yusuf Haji (Defence), Eugene Wamalwa (Justice), Otieno Kajwang’ (Immigration) and James Orengo (Lands), as well as Attorney General Githu Muigai.
President Kibaki, on his part, pledged full government support to the IEBC to fulfil its constitutional mandate of conducting a credible election.
The president directed the Ministry of Immigration and Registration of Persons to expedite the issuance of Identity Cards so that majority of Kenyans will be able to register as voters and participate in the forthcoming general election.
Last week, Wamalwa had suggested to the IEBC to consider hiring BVR kits from Ghana.
On Friday the Cabinet advised the IEBC to use the BVR system in next year’s polls saying it will help build public confidence in the electoral system.
The move by the IEBC to cancel the BVR tender and revert to manual registration elicited widespread disapproval by Kenyans including political leadership, Parliament, the Executive and Civil Society over the past week.
After cancelling the BVR tender, IEBC intended to use the Optical Mark Reader – which was utilised in the 2010 referendum – to register 18 million voters.
The IEBC chairman last week told a joint parliamentary committee that the tender was cancelled after two of the shortlisted bidders failed in the due diligence process while the other two quoted above IEBC’s budget.
“Two of the four shortlisted bidders failed the due-diligence test; while the other two quoted above the commissions’ budget. The nation is disappointed, we are also disappointed but nothing is lost,” the IEBC chairman said at the time.
Hassan, though without further explanation said the decision was made after the process became ‘murky’ and after it was infiltrated by ‘extraneous’ factors.
Voter registration was expected to commence after the three by-elections in Kangema, Ndhiwa and Kajiado North constituencies set for September 17.
Out of the 29 companies that bid for the tender only four firms were shortlisted for the award.
4G Identity Solution was ranked first quoting Sh3.72 billion, followed by Systems Integrated Limited at Sh3.85 billion; Face Technologies was third quoting Sh4.78 billion while On Track Innovations was ranked fourth quoting a price of Sh8.22 billion.