NAIROBI, Kenya, Oct 23 – The government has assured that the next General Election will be held on schedule after the Treasury and the Attorney General approved the financing agreement for Biometric Voter Registration (BVR) kits.
Finance Minister Njeru Githae on Tuesday morning said the delay in approval of the financing agreement was due to its late arrival from France.
He said that neither the Treasury nor the Attorney General was to blame for the setback since the agreement was only received on Monday.
“Before I went to attend the International Monetary Fund (IMF) and World Bank meeting, I had already approved the payment of the deposit but it only required the approval of the Attorney General. The AG could not have approved it without the formal financing agreement,” he clarified.
Attorney General Githu Muigai and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Monday traded accusations over who was to blame for the hold-up in delivery of the kits after IEBC chairman Issack Hassan was quoted blaming the AG.
Muigai, whose office approved the financing agreement on Monday afternoon, insisted that he only received the papers on Monday morning, almost a month after the contract was signed between the IEBC, the Treasury and the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC) the financier of the project.
The Finance Minister said that the 15,000 kits will be flown into the country in three phases of 5,000 kits each, after the French supplier Safran Morpho receives the money.
“The first lot is to come immediately then the rest will follow subsequently. We increased the kits from 9,000 because we have run out of time and we do not want manual registration. We do not want dead voters in the next elections… people who died, resurrected, voted and died again,” the minister said in jest.
Githae also assured investors that the elections will be free and fair and that they should have no reason to fear investing in Kenya.
“The Treasury will provide all the necessary funding to the IEBC and all other organs like the police that are required for the polls because we want it to be free and fair. So I assure the nation and investors that the polls will be in March and they will be free,” he said adding that Foreign Direct Investments had experienced unprecedented growth in 2012 unlike in previous election years.
The stalemate over the acquisition of the BVR kits had promoted President Kibaki to call a crisis meeting with the IEBC but the talks did not materialise for undisclosed reasons.
The government stepped in to procure the BVR kits in August this year under a state-to-state arrangement after the IEBC cancelled the initial tender that was plagued by controversy.
The government also agreed to make amendments to the Elections Act to reduce the period for closure of the voters’ register from 90 days to 45 days before the elections.
The IEBC had announced that it intended to roll out nationwide voter registration on November 1 but the process is certain to be delayed following the expected lateness with delivery of the kits.
The IEBC targets to register 18 million voters when the process commences and is expected to open the register for inspection for another month after registration is closed.