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Wednesday, August 16, 2017

Local polls observers tell off EU, AU colleagues against blanket approval

The European Union Officials during the observers press briefing ./victor imboto
The European Union Officials during the observers press briefing ./victor imboto

The local civil society observer groups yesterday called on their international and regional counterparts not to give a blanket approval of the election until the entire process is concluded.

This comes after a number of regional and international observation missions said in their preliminary reports that the process was credible and a success.

“We are concerned they may be speaking prematurely and solely to the experience of polling day itself. Polling day has never been the problem. The problem begins after polling, particularly during and following the counting, tallying, transmission and announcement of results,” Gladwell Otieno from Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu (My Vote My Voice) said in a press briefing yesterday.

“To the extent that this election has been unable to overcome the familiar problems associated with results in the previous elections, we urge them to remain fully seized with the electoral observation effort, before giving this election an unqualified stamp of approval.”

Daniel Deya of the Pan-African Lawyers’ Union said they were pleased with the African Union Observation Group, which had given its results only as from pre-voting and voting time and had yet to give its findings on the rest of the process.

He said election observation should not be taken as a gravy train where observers rush to give blanket approval to the process even before it ends to run away from indulging in difficult and complex election processes such as tallying, transmission and declaration of results.

Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu is a citizen movement spearheaded by a civil society organisation charged with ensuring fair and credible elections with minimal risks related to dysfunctional electoral systems and practices.

International Commission for Jurists - Kenya executive director Samuel Mohochi said a number of grave allegations had been raised on the electoral process. Former UN Special Rapporteur Maina Kiai said the constant variance in presidential results pointed to “something weird”.

static gap weird

They said the static gap in results for Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga gives almost parallel lines on a graph.

“Our mapping of results indicates the presence of an algorithm and something is wrong with the system. Hacking isn’t only external illegal intrusion, but even internal manipulation to give results other than the intended one. This should be investigated, but the IEBC can’t investigate itself,” Otieno said.

Even though the organisation appreciated the IEBC’s decision that it will only make a final declaration of outcomes based on the law — using publicly accessible and verifiable Forms 34A and 34B, they cast aspersions on the forms it had uploaded.

They said the IEBC had only uploaded on its public portal a few Forms 34A, which are faint and illegible, with some neither signed nor stamped by presiding officers.

“The law requires all these Forms 34A be uploaded on the public portal. Unless and until this is done, there is no legal basis for the IEBC to release any presidential results,” Otieno said.

She added that the IEBC had not informed the public why it had not uploaded all the Forms 34A in its possession. Otieno said this raised questions about the integrity of Forms 34A.

“The question to ask is why the IEBC could spend an estimated Sh54 billion in taxpayer and donor funds on this election, including the acquisition of technology to send and display results to the public in real time, without this technology being used as intended,” she said.

“The effect of this is that the transmission of results is as problematic in 2017 as was in 2007 and 2013.”

The activists said none of their field monitors around the country was able to observe a polling station that declared election results before 9pm on Tuesday, yet the IEBC started streaming results well before that time.

“This, together with the difficulties that have been experienced in sighting Forms 34A and 34B, has fuelled the impression that there is a cyber-aided cover-up of the results. If there is to be credibility in this election, the IEBC must address this perception,” the groups said in a joint statement.

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