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Thursday, August 17, 2017

Ruling will hasten announcement of results on August 9

THE Court of Appeal ruling that presidential results announced at constituency level are final did not come out of the blue.

It has just affirmed the position of the High Court, which is the moment the results are declared by the Returning Officer at the constituency they should be considered the bona fide final results.

The IEBC chairman remains the national presidential returning officer, but he will be announcing what his returning officers have done. Previously, the practice in 2007 and 2013 was that returning officers would only declare, but the results remained provisional.

They only became final upon declaration by the national returning officer.

This will no longer be the case.

The national officer will not vary the tally and if there is a challenge to the figure it can only be in court. The opposition's worry was that, previously, the problem arose from the tally at the national level.

The fear was that once the returning officers declare and transmit the results, possibly it gave room for tampering. I think the apprehension came from the EVID system in 2013.

In 2007, we remember the then Electoral Commission chairman Samuel Kivuitu complaining that he could not reach his returning officers because they had switched off their phones. The returning officers had to bring the tally manually all the way to Nairobi for declaration of the results.

In 2013, the IEBC adopted the EVID system, which meant that they would just transmit results once they keyed them into the system, and the officials at the Bomas of Kenya would pick them up and make the announcement. This caused the delay and we got the final tally four days after the election.

Whether the ruling guarantees a free and fair election remains unproven. It can only be part of a solution towards free and fair polls but it doesn't mean it is foolproof.

This ruling helps in one way – on August 8, as long as there is no violence or denial of party agents from being part of the process right from the polling station to the constituency, it will facilitate faster release of results.

For example, if we vote today in the morning, by evening voting ends and the counting starts at 7pm, we will be sure by midnight polling stations will have forwarded results to the constituency.

Kiptoo is a Law lecturer at UoN

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