Kenya 2022: Raila & Ruto agree IEBC not ready to hold free and fair polls

By Victor Abuso
Posted on Tuesday, 7 June 2022 15:35, updated on Tuesday, 28 June 2022 11:18

Kenya's presidential candidates Raila Odinga and William Ruto as they attend peace prayers at the Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi, February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya
Kenya's presidential candidates Raila Odinga and William Ruto as they attend peace prayers at the Uhuru Park grounds in Nairobi, February 24, 2013. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Kenya’s presidential frontrunners, William Ruto and Raila Odinga, are both raising questions on whether the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is well prepared to administer a free, fair and credible poll on 9 August. Each candidate has his own list of grievances.

During a meeting with the EU Ambassador to Kenya, Henriette Geiger, and other diplomats at his Karen office on 2 June, Ruto alleged that “powerful individuals” in the government, whom he did not name, were undermining the electoral body’s ability to deliver a credible election.

Ruto called on the EU diplomats to be vigilant of the electoral process, claiming that between 800,000 to one million voters from his strongholds have disappeared from the voter registry.

The United Democratic Alliance (UDA) presidential candidate said the IEBC and the government under President Uhuru Kenyatta must explain the discrepancy.

“Many of those names are people from what we consider our strongholds,’ he told the diplomats. “These attempts are a source of concern to Kenyans.”

The IEBC has however denied claims by Ruto over the missing names, explaining that the one million names he claims are missing are those of voters who applied for transfers to new polling stations.

The chairman of the polls body, Wafula Chebukati, has termed Ruto’s claims as rumours, adding that the registry is intact. “We shall account for each and every Kenyan who registered to vote.”

Back in March when Ruto spoke at Chatham House in London, he claimed there were plans – by what he referred to as ‘Deep State’ – to rig the August election. He warned that such efforts to sabotage democracy were dangerous for the country.

Raila’s 10 concerns regarding the IEBC

Raila, for his part, has raised 10 concerns that he wants the IEBC to address before the 9 August polls to ensure the presidential election is free and fair.

In the past three elections, Raila blamed the electoral body for stealing his votes.

This time round, the Azimio la Umoja One Coalition candidate wants the IEBC to engage with stakeholders on its election preparedness; to reveal the status of the voters’ register audit; and to provide an update on the deployment of election technology.

Other concerns include:

  • security of printing of ballot papers;
  • data migration;
  • the status on amending election laws that give the presiding officer power to open a ballot box that has been sealed to remove wrongly put materials at the constituency tallying centre;
  • testing of election technology ahead of elections.

“We urge you to do exactly what the people of Kenya expect of you. We would like to see a free and fair electoral process,” he told IEBC officials.

The Elections Observation Group (ELOG), a national platform that comprises civil society organisations pushing for free and fair elections, has urged the IEBC to urgently resolve concerns raised by Ruto and Raila.

“The IEBC should engage the presidential candidates and voters more to earn their trust,” says Mulle Musau, the national and regional coordinator at ELOG.

In response, the IEBC through its chairman Chebukati says: “The majority of these concerns have been addressed, we are ready to engage to resolve any other concerns.”

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