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November 20, 2017

IEBC takes 'radical' steps for rerun, settles for Al Ghurair, Safaricom

IEBC commissioner Roselyne Akombe during the commission's meeting with the political parties liaison committee at Nairobi Safari Club on March 21, 2017. /JOSEPH NDUNDA
IEBC commissioner Roselyne Akombe during the commission's meeting with the political parties liaison committee at Nairobi Safari Club on March 21, 2017. /JOSEPH NDUNDA

IEBC has affirmed "radical changes" in the commission to ensure it delivers a free, fair and credible presidential rerun on October 26.

Commissioner Roselyne Akombe announced this on Friday saying there will be zero tolerance to non-compliance with its new guidelines.

The commissioner said IEBC resorted to contacting Al Ghurair for the printing of ballot papers after all political parties rejected an offer presented by UNDP.

She said printing will have begun "by the end of this week" and that the agency has also resolved to standardise all forms 34A and Bs to avoid discrepancies highlighted by the court.

She said KIEMS gadgets have been reconfigured to transmit both text and images with an effective complementary mechanism so delays are prevented as the court directed.

Akombe further  said IEBC will not rush to announce results before verification.

"We have seven days to announce the results. We shall not be rushed to announce no matter the pressure mounted on staff. All results will be veriffied at the constituency level before transmission," she said.

She added they have agreed with media stakeholders that all 290 constituencies will be covered during results announcement and that journalists will be given unfettered access to forms 34A and 34B.

Akombe said the commission has also resolved that since Safaricom is the main service provider in the country they will still provide the 3G network for results transmission.

"To say we cannot use Safaricom would be lying."

She said the number of polling stations without the 3G network has reduced from 11,000 to nearly 3,000 stations.

She said all coordinates to the polling stations will be provided to candidates in due time after the locations are gazetted.

Related: Ignore rumours, no ballot paper printed, says IEBC

Also read: IEBC gazettes results transmission path as Senate passes Election Bill

200 PRESIDING OFFICERS OUT

The commission has dropped more than 200 presiding officers.

The commissioner said they have looked into the errors the Supreme Court said they made and drafted a 10-point manual for staff.

The top court nullified President Uhuru Kenyatta's victory over NASA chief Raila Odinga in a ruling on September 1.

"With these guides, we have vowed zero tolerance to non-compliance. That is why we have, for instance, dropped over 200 presiding officers who made errors in the previous election. We have also dropped some ROs that after vetting...they were not competent."

At a meeting with journalists and observers on Friday,Akombe said they have concluded standardised training of all returning officers and their deputies.

She said they have also identified returning officers who interfered with the August 8 election and that action will soon be taken against them.

Akombe noted it is unfair that fingers have been pointed at commissioners yet it is 450,000 recruited Kenyans who managed the poll on August 8.

"Some of you have even requested we contact UN to give us the 290 ROs to manage the election but the answer is 'absolutely no'," she said.

"It is not that the staff we have do not know what to do....they have been told  what to do and we expect things will be done differently."

Akombe reported that all technical preparations are on course and that they are confident there will be a difference this time round.

She said printing of ballot papers is expected to begin this week and all logical preparations on delivery of election materials are in the final stages.

The official noted there is limited time following Justice John Mativo's order for all eight presidential candidates to be on the ballot.

She said the commission is striving to configure the technology to accommodate them since this had only been done for Uhuru and NASA chief Raila Odinga.

"The election is not only about technical preparations but also the environment," she added.

"If I were asked today whether the commission is ready the answer would be 'yes' but the question is whether the environment and conditions are conducive for the commission to conduct a free, fair and credible election."

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