NAIROBI, Kenya, Dec 19 – The NGOs Coordination Board on Monday cancelled an American-funded civic education programme being undertaken ahead of next year’s General Election at a cost of Sh2 billion.
The programme known as the Kenya Electoral Assistance Programme (KEAP) is undertaken though the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) by the International Foundation for Electoral System (IFES).
“The purpose of this communication therefore is to direct the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES Kenya office to immediately cease all operations in the country including the implementation of the Kenya Electoral Assistance Program, KEAP 2017 that has been funded by USAID,” the letter signed by the board’s Executive Director Fazul Mahamed said., a week after President Uhuru Kenyatta warned that foreign powers were interfering with the country’s electoral process though programmes disguised as civic education.
In the letter, Mahamed accused USAID of engaging the American NGO that is not registered in Kenya as is required by law. All its staff were also said to be working in the country illegally because none of them had working permits.
“I want to caution those members of the International Community taking these actions that the Kenyan people do not look kindly on such actions. I urge all Kenyans to reject such interference. This is our country, and no one should ever try and control our choices for their selfish interests,” the President had warned when he addressed Kenyans at the Jamhuri Day celebrations.
And on Monday, Fazul followed with the tough action, in which he said the board was targeting NGOs involved in ‘coordination of the elections, voter registration, civic education, capacity building, advocacy, women and youth participation in elections, consensus building, and conflict early warning/early response.’
“By a copy of this letter, the Central Bank of Kenya is advised to immediately preserve all bank accounts and any other funds held under the name of IFES until further communication from this office,” the letter dated December 19 stated.
There was no immediate response from USAID or the targeted NGO known as IFES that is led by Michael Yard, an internationally recognised elections monitoring expert.
Fazul said Yard and all the staff working for IFES were working in Kenya illegally.
According to its website, IFES, which is funded by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) is involved in a program to “strengthen key electoral institutions, improve citizen participation in the full electoral process, and promote dialogue and consensus-building to mitigate conflict.”
Kenya is preparing to hold elections in August next year, in what is already shaping up as a bruising competition between incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta against Opposition candidates led by ODM leader Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka of the Wiper Party and Musalia Mudavadi of the Amani National Congress.
The three are in finalising talks to front a single candidate under the National Super Alliance (NASA) to face President Kenyatta.