NAIROBI, Kenya Jul 26 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and representatives of presidential candidates have reached consensus on the number of agents who will be accredited to monitor the presidential tallying of votes in next month’s General Election.
IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the two groups held a meeting Wednesday morning and resolved to have one agent per candidate.
“We all agreed the law is very clear that one agent per political party or candidate is allowed at the polling station, that is what the law says.”
“The jurisdiction of the IEBC at the polling centre is 400 metres so voters will come vote and leave the 400-metre area, so as to not interfere with the operations. Whatever happens outside the 400 metres, that is outside our jurisdiction. I believe Kenyans will follow the law and will not cause any fracas out there because that is where those other agencies come in,” the poll agency chief told a news conference held at the Commission’s Anniversary Towers offices.
Only independent presidential candidate Japheth Kaluyu attended the meeting in person while the rest sent their representatives.
The Commission called the meeting to clarify the matter after the Opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) insisted that it will have at least 10 agents at every polling station, as part of their ‘adopt-a-polling station’ strategy, “to guard flag bearer Raila Odinga’s votes.”
NASA has five affiliated political parties, who intend to each have an agent.
Acting Interior Cabinet Secretary Fred Matiangi found himself entangled in a war of words with the Opposition after he vowed to ensure only those officials that have been accredited by the IEBC will be allowed within the over 40,000 polling centres.
Speaking during the news conference called to announce a raft of security arrangements the Commission will employ at polling centres on August 8, Chebukati said at least two security officers will be deployed a polling station.
He reiterated that non-accredited persons will not be allowed within 400 meters of a polling centre.
“Regulation 63 of the Elections (General) Regulations bestows upon the presiding officer the overall duty to keep order at his or her polling station. The Presiding Officer may order the removal of any person who misconducts himself or herself at the polling station, or fails to obey any lawful instructions or orders of the presiding officer and such person shall be removed by the police officer present,” Chebukati said.
He further emphasised that the Presiding Officer may order the dispersal of any gathering of persons which in his or her view appears to be preventing free entry and exit at the polling station or to be intimidating or interfering with voters, and any such order shall be sufficient authority for a police officer, or any other person authorized by the order, to effect the dispersal.
According to plans outlined by NASA presidential candidate Odinga, some of the ‘adopt-a-polling station’ volunteers will take videos and photos of electoral materials, including Forms 34 and 36.
Odinga’s camp plans to use the records as “irrefutable evidence in case the election results are challenged.”
The election laws prohibit canvassing in or within 400 metres of polling stations on polling day.
The laws also bars exhibiting any notice or sign (other than an official notice) relating to the election; using or operating within or at the entrance of the polling station or in any public or private place in its neighbourhood any apparatus for amplifying or reproducing the human voice, such as megaphone or a loudspeaker; and shouting or otherwise acting in a disorderly manner within or at the entrance of a polling station or in any public or private place in the neighbourhood of a polling station.
The Commission has in the meantime embarked on the process of training security officers seconded to it on election security, election laws and poll offences.
The role of the officers will be to secure election materials as well as maintain order at the polling station.