Embrace dialogue over sticker issue, clergy tells IEBC and DCI

NCCK and KCCB say they are ready to mediate the process.

In Summary

• Three Venezuelans linked to the importation of election stickers are to appear before the DCI on Tuesday for a second round of questioning.

• IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati protested taking the three before the DCI, saying it would inconvenience the electoral commission.

Some of the IEBC branded materials intercepted at the JKIA.
Some of the IEBC branded materials intercepted at the JKIA.

The clergy has called on the electoral commission and the Directorate of Criminal Investigations to embrace dialogue over the stickers issue.

In a joint statement on Tuesday, the National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) and the Kenya Conference of Catholic Bishops (KCCB) said the matter touches on national security and is crucial to the elections and should not be processed through the media.

"We advise the IEBC and the National Police Service to dialogue over the subject issue with dignity, national respect and public trust. Church leaders are ready and available to mediate," the men of cloth said. 

The clergy further called on all players involved in the preparation of the August 9 polls to equally embrace dialogue in resolving any disputes that may arise.

"No agency can deliver free and fair elections on its own," they said in the statement signed by NCCK secretary general Canon Chris Kinyanjui and KCCB chair Rev John Oballa.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and the DCI have over the past few days engaged in accusations and counter-accusations over poll stickers that were recovered from Venezuelan nationals.

Jose Gregorio Camargo Castellanos, Joel Gustavo Rodriguez Garcia and Salvador Javier Sosa Suarez were arrested on Thursday after their bag which contained the stickers was intercepted at the airport.

Carmago was found with 17 rolls of election stickers while Gustavo, who arrived in the country on July 15, 2022, was found with nine rolls of the same type of stickers and Suarez with eight rolls.

The stickers, numbering about 100,000 pieces were for 10 counties. They contain information on the polling station, polling centre, ward, constituency and county as well as a unique barcode.

DCI boss George Kinoti in a statement on July 23 said Camargo confessed that he was given the materials from Panama by his company M/S Smartmatic International Holding B.V and that the material was destined for a private office in Nairobi.

What followed was a flare of accusations, denials and counter-accusations between IEBC and the DCI in the full glare of the media.

IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said the stickers are not strategic poll materials and are only meant to ease identification of KIEMS kits.

"For easy identification of the KIEMS kits, Smartmatic is required to provide stickers to aid labeling each of the kits for purposes of packaging and dispatch to all polling stations," he said in a statement on Monday.

The DCI was on Tuesday set to summon the three foreigners for a second round of questioning over importation of the election stickers. 

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