NAIROBI, Kenya, Sep 22 – The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has allayed fears of external influence in the management of the 2022 general elections.
IEBC Chairperson Wafula Chebukati who spoke on Wednesday during a meeting with Faith Based Organization in Nairobi, elaborated that even with the existence of the ‘Deep State’, amorphous clique of powerful government officials believed to have significant influence on presidential campaign, the election slated for August 9 will be conducted in accordance to the law.
Chebukati stated that as long as the results are announced at the polling station and the same transmitted to the National Tallying Centre, the outcome of the election will not be altered.
“It matters not whether deep state exists or not. We have a robust Elections Operation Plan and a very professional staff. We will conduct the elections in a free, fair, transparent and credible manner. Any other form of interference becomes irrelevant,” said Chebukati.
Claims of manipulation of electoral outcomes have been rife in recent days with Nyandarua Governor Francis Kimemia, who served as Head of Public Service and Permanent Secretary for Provincial Administration and Internal Secretary under President Mwai Kibaki, insinuating that the ‘Deep State’ often influences the outcome of a presidential poll.
Kimemia claimed that a presidential candidate backed by the ‘Deep state’ has a high probability of winning the an election during a recent interview on television.
“If you have two candidates at the rate of 50-50, and the Deep State backs one, you can be sure that one will win. The candidate must be credible and electable, that becomes very important if the Deep State are to support a candidate,” he told Citizen Television.
In his remarks of election preparedness, Chebukati however singled out budget deficit and inadequate telecommunication infrastructure as a key challenge.
He noted that only 83.6 per cent of the country is covered by 3G network, a situation he said might hinder timely relay of electronic election results from areas without good internet connectivity.
IEBC urged the Ministry of Communication, through the Communication Authority of Kenya, to boost 3G network infrastructure across the country so as ensure that the more than 11,000 polling stations across the country have access to stable network connectivity.
“It is our hope that the Information Technology infrastructure will be addressed to enable us transmit results electronically lest we be blamed for an issue which is not in our mandate to solve,” said Chebukati.
He also lamented over Parliament’s failure to pass critical legislation to enable the commission to prepare for the general elections.
Chebukati warned that external issues which include legislation might defeat the efforts by the poll agency to evade past failures in the conduct of the 2022 elections.
In particular he pointed out presidential petition 1 of 2017 which cited systemic institutional challenges, both internal and external, saying the commission had addressed internal challenges with most external factors yet to be resolved.
“In international Standards, legal reforms should be put in place at least two years before the election. We need to pass all the necessary legislation by December otherwise they will interfere with our election operations plan,” he said.
Among the external legislative issues Chebukati raised include the passage of election-related laws for instance the Elections Campaign Finance Bill, the IEBC Amendment Bill and the Referendum Bill.
He also warned that insufficient funding could scuttle critical preparatory activities ahead of the 2022 General Elections saying IEBC was facing financial constraints in undertaking key operations to facilitate a tamper proof poll.
Chebukati indicated the Treasury had only availed Sh26.4 billion leaving the agency with a Sh14.6 billion deficit to attain a fully funded budget of Sh40.9 billion.
“As a commission we are being exposed to the risk to under-funding,” he said.
The poll agency attributed the estimated budget to a legislative framework governing the electoral process which results in expensive elections.
Requirements under the framework include the capping of maximum registered voters per polling station.
“The law says that you cannot have more than 700 voters in a polling station. We’re now targeting to register more than 6 million voters that will mean we will increase our polling station from 40,833 to 53,000 plus polling station. This means we’ll shall employ more election officials,” Chebukati said.
The poll body explained that delayed funding has previously stalled crucial electoral processes exposing the commission to exploitation by vendors and service providers due to the urgency to adhere to our election calendar.
“Over the years the funding of the commission has not been adequate and in tandem with the election cycle. This constraints our activities in the procurement process,” he noted.
The electoral commission is set to register at least six million new voters in October as part of preparations for next year’s General Election. IEBC will also conduct mass voter registration for the diaspora community in December.