The chief executive of Kenya’s electoral commission was charged on Wednesday over a $15 million tender for equipment that was meant to prevent vote fraud during March’s presidential election but broke down during the count. The new technology was aimed at avoiding the violent disputes that led to 1,200 deaths after the election five years ago. Previous votes in Kenya have also been dogged by “ghost” voters, stuffed ballot boxes and rigging at the final tally. As well as biometrically testing voter identity, it was meant to transmit the number of votes cast to a central tallying center – unlike in the past when votes were ferried manually from polling stations, increasing the chances of tampering.
Kenya’s electoral commission has said it is auditing election results so far tallied to iron out discrepancies that have been detected. With 87% of constituencies declared from Monday’s vote, Uhuru Kenyatta retains a significant lead over his rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga. He has 50% of the vote, against 43.3% for Mr Odinga. A candidate needs more than 50% to avoid a run-off. Officials had said the results would be finalised on Friday. “There may have been errors and discrepancies here and there. Some we have already detected and we are working on them,” Kenya’s Daily Nation newspaper quotes James Oswago, chief executive of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), as saying. … Mr Oswago’s announcement came after Mr Odinga’s Cord alliance had complained that the votes from 11 constituencies were missing from the 254 officially tallied so far, the Daily Nation reports. This meant that Mr Odinga was missing 281,611 votes compared to 25,863 for Mr Kenyatta for those constituencies, Cord said.
Kenyan elections have been underway for slightly more than 24 hours, and the much-touted voting technology, or lack thereof, has been at the center of attention. Within hours of the opening of the polling centers, reports from around the country announced the failure of the biometric voter identification system. This technology, which recorded voters’ fingerprints and other biographical data during the voter registration process, was meant to then identify registered voters on Election Day, using Kenyans’ individual biometric identity information. Due to a number of problems, including power outages, low battery life of the devices and polling officials’ difficulty accessing the central system, however, many stations had to resort to using the manual register.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of Kenya has owned up to a technical hitch in its electronic result transmission that has delayed transmission of results from polling stations countrywide. CEO James Oswago explained that the hitch had been occasioned by a low disk space in one of its servers. To resolve the problem, IEBC’s engineers have added the disk capacity of the affected server, said Mr Oswago. Addressing a press conference at Bomas of Kenya, Mr Oswago gave an assurance that the system has improved its performance since the repairs were done. He also added that agents of respective presidential candidates had been fully briefed about the hitch.
The judiciary and electoral commission say they are prepared for the 4 March vote and will not repeat the mistakes of the contested December 2007 polls. What happens in Kenya’s 4 March election stretches far beyond the fortunes of the rival parties to the fate of the new institutions and political order established during the last four years. “The judiciary – not just the Supreme Court – faces a very, very serious test in these elections,” the chief justice Willy Mutunga tells The Africa Report. “Because in 2007 we were rejected, we were seen to be partisan. We’ve been building confidence in the institutions, the entire judiciary.” Mutunga explains that there are clear legal rules that will have to be followed on any of the electoral disputes. One of the rival presidential candidates, Raila Odinga, has already said that he regards the reformed judiciary as reliably impartial. In the 2007 elections Odinga told his party not to bother contesting the result because of the pervasive political bias of the judiciary. On the coming elections, Mutunga takes a fairly apocalyptic view: “We all realise that if our judiciary is rejected yet again then the institution will never survive.” But he is optimistic that the political reforms and the new constitution have changed the climate.