Nairobi, Kenya, Oct 21 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has assured that all is now set for Thursday’s repeat presidential election, having received the first batch of ballot papers.
More are expected to arrive on Monday and Tuesday.
The ballot papers, which arrived at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA) on Saturday night, were received by the commission vice chairperson Consolata Nkatha.
“We are now ready to conduct elections because we have started receiving the ballot papers,” she told journalists at the airport.
She dismissed allegations of partisan interests leveled against a section of the commissioners by Roselyne Akombe—who quit last week citing frustrations and divisions at the commission.
“People are entitled to their own personal opinions. We will not respond to Akombe’s comments. Not now,” Nkatha told journalists who sought to know how the commission is navigating through amid divisions over alleged party loyalties.
The consignment received on Saturday contained 16 tons of ballot boxes destined for Turkana, Marsabit, Mandera, Wajir, Tana River, Lamu, Garissa, Isiolo, Samburu, Laikipia counties and the Diaspora.
On resistance faced by electoral commission officials in Opposition strongholds in sections of the country like Nyanza, she maintained that an elaborate security plan was in place to ensure voting takes place in those areas.
“We hope that the police will secure the ballot boxes, the staff, and the materials for voting, but we can’t force, anyone, to vote,” she said, and urged “registered voters to come out and exercise their democratic rights. We trust that all polling stations will be open on time for everyone to vote.”
Though the commission has made an extra three percent ballot papers – as compared to six percent in the August 8th elections – ballot papers beyond the registered voters for the provision of spoilt votes, Nkatha reiterated that there will be transparency in the handling of the extra papers so that they don’t end up being stuffed in the ballot boxes as has been alleged by some political players.
“All ballot papers will be accounted for after the exercise. We have six security features. They are very distinct. It’s like almost printing money. You can’t forge the ballot papers,” she assured.
The ballot papers has names for all the eight presidential candidates who participated in the August 8 election whose results were nullified, after one of them Opposition leader Raila Odinga successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to challenge incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.
The Supreme Court subsequently ordered a fresh election to be conducted within 60 days from September 1 when the verdict was issued, but Odinga has vowed to boycott the poll, having written a letter to the electoral commission which has said it will ignore the notification until he signs the requisite Form 24A, which Odinga has declined to fill arguing that he can only do so if a fresh nomination was done to pick new candidates.
“We have addressed the issues that were raised by the Supreme Court. Once the PO finishes reading the results, they will take a photograph and send it using KIEMS,” she said, adding that “there are also notable differences in the ballot papers for the fresh presidential poll which either has new or improved features as compared to the August 8 ones.”
Odinga pulled out of the election last week, denouncing the election commission for failing to make sufficient reforms to avoid the “irregularities” that led the first vote to be cancelled.
He has said he is convinced that the August 8 vote was rigged, and that plans are afoot to steal the new election as well.
Odinga accuses the electoral commission of failing to carry out reforms—including the ouster of some of officials accused of bungling the August election.
“Whereas the August 8 presidential poll forms were white, the October 26th forms are grey. The serialization is tapered, which means numbers are made thinner towards the end to discourage forgery,” confirmed IEBC.
The ballot papers have also been customized, including the name of the polling station printed on the ballot.
“It means with this variable printing, the officials would not have to write the name of the polling station, constituency or county because it is already provided for.”