Leaked Roselyn Akombe report maps needed investigations and reforms for trustworthy Kenya elections

The Elephant has published a leaked copy of the “End of Assignment Report of Former IEBC Comissioner Roselyn Akombe“.

Anyone interested in Kenyan elections and/or democracy assistance for Kenya will want to study in detail Dr. Akombe’s report submitted to the IEBC Chairman dated October 30, 2017 following her resignation and flight to the United States earlier in the month.

The report lays out many of the problems involved within the workings of the IEBC. Some of the problems were widely apparent in broad brush, but not in the detail Akombe’s report reveals. These include involvement of the Government of Kenya within the decision making of the IEBC which was to be independent and a repetition of the problem with the incumbent Chief Election Officer operating as a separate and competing center of power from the Chairman and official bodies of the Commission itself.

Other problems kept out of the public eye are revealed, such as the feeling of Commissioners that they were not able to speak freely in their own private meetings because they would face pressure or reprisal from extraneous forces based on what they said in the meetings. Official minutes were not kept contemporaneously and a large bulk of minutes were assembled and approved for prior activity on the eve of the August election.

The new Commission was too late to solve major flaws in the Voter Registration process, the review undertaken by KPMG was extraordinarily pricey relative to reviews in other countries, and the known presence of dead voters and allowance for non biometric identification raise questions.

Procurement was taken explicitly as a joke. Akombe makes clear that there is much to be examined in the sole source KIEMS award to OT Morpho (still known as “Safran Morpho” at the time of the March 2017 award as the 2016 sale agreement from Safran to Oberthur Technologies was still pending approval and closed in May 2017) as well as the OT role in the operations of the process thereafter.

It should be noted that roughly two months after Dr. Akombe’s report, Oberthur Technologies was debarred by the World Bank Group for three years for corruption on a government system deal in Bangladesh in 2012.

According to USAID we did not purchase or fund the purchase of KIEMS, unlike the situation in 2013 when USAID purchased the failed Results Transmission System for the IEBC through IFES, the International Foundation for Electoral Systems. Nonetheless, the announcement of the Safran Morpho deal came at a time the President of IFES was visiting Nairobi and having meetings with both the IEBC and Government of Kenya officials, and introducing the new IFES Chief of Party for the overall USAID Kenya Electoral Assistance Program. The previous Chief of Party, Michael Yard, the incumbent from 2013, was publicly attacked by Kenyan government and ruling Jubilee Party officials in December 2016 as a new Commission was preparing to take office. Yard changed countries for IFES shortly after a new Commission was sworn in late January. In late March Yard’s replacement was introduced contemporaneously with the KIEMS announcement. See my March 24, 2017 post “The hardest job in Kenya . . .“.

Note that Akombe singles out the IFES Chief and a key technical expert for the quality of their support.

Update: For more on things falling apart at the IEBC, see “A Quarrel in Ali Baba’s Cave” from Kwamchetsi Makokha in The Elephant.

Ken

American lawyer who took leave from career and moved family to Nairobi for a year to "help" with democratic development. After stolen '07 election in Kenya and violent aftermath have tried to bring out truth of events for those who care in hope we can improve.

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