, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 24 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is pleading for the benefit of doubt over the upcoming Makueni Senate by-election, which is the first after the March 4 General Election and a mere 48 hours away.
While admitting to several election follies and malpractices including the imposition of Mutula Kilonzo Jr’s name on an already printed ballot papers, the IEBC begged Kenyans and particularly voters from Makueni County, to trust it to deliver a fair poll given the insurmountable challenges that it has faced.
Armed with a video clip of a ‘perfect’ embossment, Deputy Commission Secretary William Shollei assured journalists on Wednesday that voters and observers would not be able to pick out the difference between the ingrained names and the printed ones.
He explained that the ballot paper printers had left adequate space for the inclusion of a fifth name (Mutula Jr).
“The fifth candidate will be included by sticking a strip on the ballot paper which includes all his details. And when we stick that name, it will be exactly the way it appears for the other candidates,” he assured.
Shollei maintained that no candidate would be unduly advantaged or disadvantaged by the imposition despite several concerns from Mutula Jr, the Wiper Democratic Movement and their competitors that his name would stick out like a sore thumb.
He explained that the IEBC was caught between a rock and a hard place because of the tight time constraints placed by the laws and a pending High Court ruling (at the time) and therefore had to go ahead with the printing of the ballot papers to beat the timelines.
This however raises other concerns on why the IEBC went ahead with the printing despite the fact that there was a pending court decision that could have gone either way.
“There was very little turnaround time to ensure that the ballot papers included all the candidates. However we have made adequate preparations to ensure that all the candidates will be in the ballot papers,” he maintained.
Shollei found himself in a tricky spot with journalists pressing him for answers that he could not give because the High Court had not yet determined whether the by-election would proceed with the ballot papers as prepared by the IEBC.
He also revealed that the ballot papers would arrive in the country on Thursday when the imposition process will begin.
The electoral body has however not yet decided whether to conduct the embedding in Nairobi or Makueni Counties.
And although this raises security concerns and the sanctity of the ballot papers, Shollei maintained that the exercise would be tamper proof.
The commission shot itself in the foot the moment it cleared lawyer Kethi Kilonzo for the by-election even though there were doubts that her name would not appear anywhere on the voter registers.
The saga has not only ruffled many feathers the wrong way but it has brought to light the hidden skeletons in the IEBC systems.