, NAIROBI, Kenya Oct 2 – A French IT firm awarded a Sh2.4 billion contract to re-configure the electoral technology ahead of this month’s repeat presidential election is racing against time to complete the job within strict timelines in readiness for a simulation exercise slated for next week.
OT-Morpho which re-branded to IDEMIA is currently upgrading software in the Kenya Integrated Election Management System kits in measures aimed to seal loopholes blamed for the nullification of the August 8 presidential election by the Supreme Court.
The French firm’s involvement in the elections is one of the contested issues between the two main political parties, with NASA’s Raila Odinga saying they cannot be trusted after accusing them of bungling the annulled poll.
The Jubilee Party on the other hand has proposed amendments to the election laws in what, President Uhuru Kenyatta says, is aimed at addressing ambiguities in some of the provisions.
“There is no sinister motive in amending the laws at all, we want to make sure everyone is accountable and signs the election forms as required,” President Kenyatta said last week, “We want to have provisions that guarantees prosecution for those who fail to sign.”
But Odinga is not convinced, and has accused the President of using Parliament for his “selfish gains”.
“What we are seeing is having rules of the game changed during half-time,” he protested at a recent rally, “that cannot be a fair game at all.”
With terms of the contract between IEBC and IDEMIA suggesting a total overhaul of the electronic results transmission system, the poll agency may need to have all the 45,000 KIEMS gadgets in its possession reconfigured to provide for contingencies in the 40,883 polling stations across the country.
Among the radical changes approved by the commission is the simultaneous transmission of text entries and statutory results declaration forms (34 A and 34B) to resolve ambiguities that occurred in the last election where some results were displayed on IEBC’s public results without supporting results forms.
But Odinga has insisted that “there shall be no elections on October 26”, if their demands which include kicking out OT-Morpho are not met.
The electoral commission had also identified a local Mobile Network Operator – Safaricom – as the primary provider of a Virtual Private Network through which election results shall be transmitted to both the 290 Constituency Tallying Centres and the National Tallying Centre after votes are counted at the polling stations.
Plans are also in place to provide satellite communication technology to all the 290 IEBC constituency command centers to facilitate transmission of results in places where 3G and 4G internet connectivity requisite for transmission of Forms 34A and 34B is unavailable.
According to statistics published by the electoral commission, some 11,155 polling stations lack 3G and 4G coverage.
The setting up of tallying centers according to IEBC timelines is expected to kick off on Monday next week, the same being completed by October 14.
The commission may, however, be compelled to reschedule a simulation of electronic transmission of results which had been slated for October 10 and 11 in light the late award of the Sh2.4 billion contract which was set to have been awarded by September 11.
The training of election officials on KIEMS handling could also be pushed to a later date despite it expected to have been completed by October 14.
IEBC, however, remains confident that all plans will have fallen in place by Election Day bearing in mind the timelines it had published were working towards getting ready for polls on October 17. The poll date has since been changed to October 26.