The Ballot Tender Crisis intensified after the IEBC overcame lawsuits to award the tender to Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair. This led to a meeting between the IEBC and the presidential candidates on Thursday where the IEBC chairman maintained that the Board’s decision was final.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati addressed the press following the meeting which was attended by 8 presidential candidates and their representatives at the Hotel Intercontinental.
Chebukati said that the IEBC cannot retract the Sh 2.5 billion contract from the Arabs as it was already signed. He also stated that the IEBC was behind its electoral cycle schedule and should be progressing to other matters at this stage.
“If you look at the timelines we have, actually today we should be doing the artwork for the ballot. So, we do not have time to go into procurement of the ballot tender again,” said Mr Chebukati.
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Opposition NASA flag bearer Raila Odinga has repeatedly accused the Jubilee party of influencing the IEBC’s tender award to Al Ghurair due to their close ties.
At the National Elections Conference in KICC, Mr Odinga claimed that “In October last year, the officials of the company visited Kenya under the name ‘Dubai Chamber of Commerce’ and secretly met high ranking Jubilee party officials to discuss details of the tender.”
NASA principal Musalia Mudavadi has also claimed that President Uhuru’s younger brother Muhoho Kenyatta has ties with the Dubai firm. He said that the CEO of the Dubai company is a close friend of the Kenyatta’s.
“We want President Uhuru Kenyatta to come clean on his and his family’s links with the Dubai firm and state his interest in the contract that the firm was awarded. The interest, in our view, is clear. The President and the Jubilee team are looking for a firm that can supply extra ballots secretly as was the case in 2013,” Mudavadi said.
FIRING OF COMPROMISING IEBC STAFF
The IEBC has ignored NASA’s claims calling it mere allegations. However, at the Thursday meeting, the IEBC boss said he would fire any of its officials discovered to have influenced the ballot procurement to the Dubai-based firm.
“If any member of our staff has been involved in corruption or has been involved in any inducement, we will take action. As it stands now, they are just mere allegations,” Chebukati said.
NASA’s PREFERRED CONTRACT BENEFACTOR
Also at the meeting, Uhuru’s representative Jubilee Secretary-General Raphael Tuju revealed that NASA only began fighting Jubilee over the ballot tender after their attempt to award it to South Africa-based Paarl Media whom they have a relationship with failed.
“We know that representatives of the firm (Paarl Media) met the Nasa candidate five times…..We have said that give the tender to any firm. For us it is not the ballot papers that will vote, it is the people of Kenya.”
However, one of NASA representative ODM Rarieda parliamentary aspirant Otiende Amollo said: “We want the tender given to a firm that has no association with anyone in the race.”
CALL FOR DISQUALIFICATION OF NASA AND JUBILEE PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATES
Other political party representatives were outraged at NASA and Jubilee’s attempt to influence the tender and called for their disqualification.
Independent presidential candidate Michael Wainaina said:“We want the IEBC to be an independent body that does not respond to Nasa and Jubilee, two political formations that have shown that they are not interested in free and fair elections.”
Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot said: “Jubilee has been accused of improper contact with Al-Ghurair. It has not denied. It has gone ahead to accuse Nasa of trying to pitch another firm. I say disqualify both these people because of the likelihood of bias that they have already admitted.”
At the end of the meeting, the IEBC was firm on their decision that the ballot tender award was final.