, NAIROBI, Kenya, Jul 26 – Voters go to the polls to elect a new Senator in Makueni on Friday, in a hotly contested race that has been characterized by high political drama.
On Thursday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was rushing against time to superimpose the name of Mutula Kilonzo Junior on the ballot papers, which were then to be urgently transported to Makueni.
By evening, only ballots for Kibwezi East and Kibwezi West constituencies were flown by helicopter to the area, as nightfall forced the IEBC to use road transport to ship the rest.
Although the commission had earlier said that it would fly all the ballot papers, the task of superimposing Mutula Jr’s details on the already printed ballot papers proved to be a daunting task.
It took a lot of time, from the moment the printed ballot papers arrived in the country from the United Kingdom at around 6am on Thursday, to manually fix Mutula Jr’s details and 12 hours later only those from Kibwezi East and Kibwezi West were ready.
It emerged that the ballot papers for Mbooni, Makueni, Kaiti and Kilome constituencies would be transported by road.
“We are going to airlift these ballot papers to these areas and then they will be distributed together with the ballot boxes from there. We are taking this exercise very seriously and that is why Mr Shollei (William), who is in charge of logistics, my deputy and myself are all here and we are also expecting the Chairman,” said IEBC Chief Executive Officer James Oswago said earlier.
The IEBC has been struggling with a lot of logistical challenges since the High Court delivered a ruling that kicked out lawyer Kethi Kilonzo from the race and paved way for her elder brother Mutula Jr to vie for the seat.
But despite the challenges, Oswago maintained that the commission would ensure that the process was fair and transparent and that no one would be unduly advantaged or disadvantaged.
“The same security features on the prints have been embedded on the other one meaning that if someone attempted to print his own ‘bandia’ one we will know,” he said.
“And in every polling station we have a UV torch light so if we run it through and you printed yours it will not be the same as ours.”
The commission had earlier allowed journalists to catch a glimpse of the sticking process as it moves to dispel any suspicions and open up the process to scrutiny.
And on Wednesday, the commission asked voters of Makueni County and Kenyans at large to once again put their faith in it to deliver and put aside the bad publicity it has received in recent pasts.
But what goes down in Makueni County in the next 24 hours will be the final tool used to make or break the IEBC’s public image once again.