Asking for a friend.
Asking for a friend.
Back in February 2013 The Africa Report ran a feature entitled “Can Kenya’s judiciary and election commission pull it off?” on readiness for the general election on that March 4. In a blog post from that April after the Supreme Court upheld the election I discussed Hon. Willie Mutunga’s “judicial philosophy” in the context of what he had had conveyed in that Africa Report just before the vote.
With this year’s Supreme Court decision annulling the August 8 presidential vote with Paul Muite, one of Kenya’s most prominent lawyers–and sometimes “Central Province” politician and official–representing the Election Commission (IEBC) I thought it was worthwhile to highlight his pre-election integrity concerns when he was not litigating:
There is, however, nervousness about how the IEBC will fare.
Led by Ahmed Issack Hassan, the IEBC has enjoyed public confidence since August 2010 when it ran the referendum on the new constitution.
It then held several by-elections with textbook efficiency.
But troubles began last year over a tender for biometric voter registration kits.
After anomalies were exposed, the government intervened and awarded the tender to France’s Safran Morpho at almost double the stipulated cost.
The delayed voter registration was com- pressed to one month instead of three.
James Oswago, the IEBC chief executive, says it is absolutely committed to transparency: “In fact, I am not aware of any public procurement officer who has referred a controversial process to the government for arbitration. I did. You have not heard anybody going to court for corruption linked to this process.”
Unlike the old Electoral Commission of Kenya, whose top officials were in the president’s gift, the IEBC has nine one-term commissioners including Oswago, who acts as secretary to the board.
Each commissioner was selected after consultations between President Kibaki and Prime Minister Odinga, the two main rivals in the 2007 election, and then vetted by parliament.
“We have in place structures that invalidate a discretionary announcement – a rigged vote. You can accuse the commission of inefficiency or of lateness and so on, but not of rigging,” Oswago says confidently.
But Paul Muite, a lawyer who is contesting the presidency himself, does not share such certainty: “The IEBC is not inspiring confidence. I am not sure that they have the capacity or political will to conduct credible elections.
“There are integrity questions regarding some commissioners […] the composition of the commissioners was motivated not by merit but by the coalition government’s need for ethnic and regional balance.”
Similarly, a report by South Consulting, which has been monitoring the coalition government for the Panel of Eminent African Personalities led by former United Nations secretary general Kofi Annan, raised questions about the IEBC’s capacity.
It questioned its capacity to act decisively on electoral disputes and pointed to its inability to censure rogue parties and politicians during the chaotic party primaries in January.
In January, the IEBC vetted and registered eight presidential candidates, rejecting two on technical grounds.
Among those approved was Uhuru Kenyatta, although he was facing a local case challenging his candidature on integrity grounds.
The case is unlikely to be decided before the presidential elections.
It seems the IEBC did not want to prejudge it, so was happy to let the courts decide.
Pressure is certain to build on the new and inexperienced IEBC as elections approach and then again in likely second round elections.
The courts, determined to uphold their independence, will probably act as a buffer against violent street protests.
The police force, overstretched as it is and caught in a maelstrom of reform, resistance and warring political factions, may not.
Voters may find themselves caught between these two institutions●
Read the original article on Theafricareport.com : Can Kenya’s judiciary and electoral commission pull it off? | East & Horn Africa
The good people at www.NeverAgain.co.ke have given us an edited version of the concluding argument in the Supreme Court from Julie Soweto, counsel for petitioners Njonjo Mue and Khelef Khalifa: Kenya’s Supreme Court judges have a choice between upholding the beacon they raised or apologizing for doing the right thing:
We, the people, are beseeching this Court to act again in defence of the law and the Constitution. If we are to summarise our grievance in this petition, it is this, IEBC and the Chairperson of the IEBC simply do not seem to understand the Constitution and the law. Either they do not understand it, or they believe they can get away with disregarding the law.
The starting point is September 1, 2017 because that is where this Court gave its direction: Go and conduct a fresh election in strict compliance with the Constitution and the applicable law.
We are going to demonstrate that IEBC and the chairperson simply did not do this.
. . . .
Our petition rests on five limbs: the absence of universal suffrage, the environment of violence and intimidation; the independence of the electoral management body; its dishonesty and duplicity; and its failure to follow the law and its own procedures.
. . . .
Thirdly, this Court cannot avoid the reality before its eyes, which is that the IEBC appears to be under the thumb of the Executive, currently controlled by the Third Respondent. Their pleadings are either similar or complementary. The affidavit of the IEBC chairman, is proof that the commission was never independent but was working overtime to please political players such as the National Super Alliance and the Jubilee Party. The internal incoherence of the commission is proof of its discordance, brought to light most dramatically by the resignation of Commissioner Roselyn Akombe.
Part of IEBC’s dysfunction is right before the Court in the form of the affidavits sworn by the vice chair on her own behalf and on behalf of five other commissioners excluding the chair. What is to be understood by this?
IEBC is wholly to blame for this state of affairs. Their own internal environment precipitated the climate of violence and intimidation.
Dr Akombe feared for her life. The Chairperson’s address on October 18, 2017 acknowledged her as “one of our brightest”. His statement show and confirm his awareness that this was no environment to hold a free, fair and credible election. This is the National Returning Officer making such statements a week to the election. Can it then be argued that his own statement did not have an effect on the conduct of the electorate? For one side, definitely, he must have affirmed and reinforced their convictions that the election was a sham. Could this damage be undone in seven days?
That damage had led to the withdrawal of a candidate, which precipitated boycotts and attendant consequences. The IEBC is squarely to blame for this state of affairs. This is the chairperson confirming the internal environment of the IEBC was discordant. At this point the damage is already done. It is too late. He confirmed that there were attempts to interfere with the commission and that there was partisanship within it.
What could he and should he have done? He could have come to this Court and presented his challenges. He came to clarify what to do about wrong numbers! How to do add numbers. If he had read and applied the Constitution holistically he could similarly have come to seek help. He did not.
Fourth, the IEBC decided what law to follow and what law to ignore. It chose to rely on the Supreme Court decision in 2013 where it provided that only the President-elect in a nullified election and the successful petitioner should contest the fresh election; but it did not want to obey the direction that one candidate abandoning the race would automatically require a new election. The IEBC printed ballot papers with Shakhalaga Khwa Jirongo’s name on the list of candidates on October 19, and then gazetted his candidature on October 24, 2017. It declared that no nominations would be conducted, when it could have declared the candidates as having been nominated by dint of the Supreme Court’s nullification of the August 8, 2017 election. It held consultations with a variety of stakeholders but neglected to inform political parties about the gazettement of returning officers.
Finally, the IEBC has been unable to tell a consistent story about the elections. The number of registered voters is a moving target. The voter turnout in the fresh presidential election changed at least three times. Voter turnout is the true north of any credible election result, and it is locked down at the close of polling. The Commission’s behaviour around the voter turnout suggests that it was fluid.
. . . .
From this blog late last year:
Meanwhile, Kenya is paying an average of about $343,000.00 “severance” to each of the outgoing Independent Electoral and Boundary Commissioners for leaving earlier this fall rather than completing their terms through November 2017. No signs of accountability for the #Chickengate bribes to the IEBC by Smith & Ouzman that were prosecuted by the UK and no sign of accountability for corruption in the subsequent 2013 election technology procurements.
While the “buyout” has been negotiated, the incumbent IEBC staff without the “servered” Commission has been proceeding to undertake election preparations that will be fait accompli for the new Commission when it is appointed next year.
Accordingly, the chief executive has proceeded to report plans to spend an astounding 30Billion KSh to conduct the 2017 general election, while setting a target of 22 million registered voters. In other words and figures, roughly $13.40US per registered voter if the target is met or $19.60US per currently registered voter. (For comparative data from places like Haiti and Bosnia,see The Ace Project data on cost of registration and elections.)
Update: see Roselyne Akombe’s interview in the Saturday Nation, “Credible Oct. 26 election not possible: Akombe”
[Update: Here is an Oct. 3 Daily Nation story on the status of negotiations and demands among Kenyan politicians and Western diplomats: “Envoys threaten travel bans to politicians derailing poll plans“. The International Crisis Group meanwhile offers a good brief: “How to have a credible, peaceful presidential election in Kenya“.
The independent European Union Election Observation Mission issued a new 3 October statement saying “decisive improvements are still achievable if Kenyans come together in a constructive manner” while decrying excessive demands and proposed law changes and with confrontation from both sides.
And to refresh the memories of the envoys and candidates here are the September 14 recommendations of the European Union Election Observation Mission for reforms ahead of the election re-run.]
It is in fact very unfortunate that time has been running hard against the 60 day deadline for the “fresh election” necessitated by the failure of Kenya’s IEBC (significantly supported by the United States and, at least indirectly through the UNDP so-called “basket funding”, other donors) to conduct a lawful presidential election on August 8 as determined by the Supreme Court of Kenya.
With the passage of time things like the then-shocking torture/murder of acting IEBC ICT head on the eve of the election are no longer mentioned in such statements as today’s from the envoy group. Too long ago that murder (passing 60 days) and with no sign of progress or serious effort to solve the case we should of course “accept and move on” that it was simply an unfortunate coincidence (or at most one of those political murders that happen periodically in Kenya that are agreed to be ignored so that we don’t have to face the darker realitity of how “democracy” really works in such a pretty country). Of no relevance to the August 8 election or its rerun in the hands of the his suspened predecessor who got his job back when Msando was killed even though he had been earlier suspended as ICT director for refusing to cooperate in an audit.
Rather it is noted today that it is “too late” to replace staff hired under the removed Issack Hassan Chickengate regime or otherwise substantially reform the IEBC.
Longstanding CEO Ezra Chiloba doubled-down last week and signed (reportedly) a new (amendment??) with the controversially sole-sourced ICT vendor OT Morpho now owned by a US-based fund and a fund of the Government of France. Pretty much an “in your face” gesture toward reformers if true. [Update 4/17: The IEBC twitter feed has reported that the OT Morpho contract will be released – I gather this is confirmation of the reported new agreement but we shall see.]
Either the donors have lost all significant influence, if they had any, toward transparency and trust building at the IEBC or they are really gambling hard on selling whatever the IEBC in existing form–without meaningful reform–will offer up on October 26 and the seven days thereafter.
As for me, I think this is a bad gamble, both in terms of odds and because the known character of the other players at the table.
As an American who was involved in the 2007 fiasco from part-way inside and witnessed 2013, I would like to see my Government cease to help underwrite this IEBC as a matter of our own integrity and of our long term ability to provide some future positive influence to the future development of independent democratic institutions in Kenya.
The American dollars supporting through USAID this IEBC would be much better spent on urgent humanitarian needs (see the UNDP’s call for additional funds of more than $100M for Kenya famine relief).
It may be that NASA will throw in the towel and agree to go along to run in a “not so fresh” election without IEBC reforms. That is for NASA to decide. I just do not want my Government to interfere in that decisionmaking process unless we are willing to provide some independent assurance of transparency and support for fairness to all Kenyans (not just NASA) that the Government of Kenya cannot be expected to agree to unless we are willing to stand up to them in a way that I have not seen from us in 2007 or 2013.
A Kenyan blogger wrote in early 2008 that I “should be” subpoenaed after I was reported in Slate magazine as “sitting on” the embargoed USAID-funded IRI exit poll. I would have welcomed it. Sadly no subpoena came. No one approached me except from the media as I hoped that the decision would be made in Washington to end the embargo as Joel Barkan and I urged.
The exit poll was publicly released by the the University of California San Diego research team at an event at CSIS in Washington only in July 2008 after the six month publicity restriction in their consulting contract with IRI. [ed. note: Remember it was then released in August by IRI.]
By that time, it mattered for “the war for history” as to whether the election had actually been stolen or not, but had no real time impact in that Kibaki’s second full term was well underway. The “Kreigler Commission” reporting to President Kibaki was staying off the question of what really happened to the presidential tally at the ECK.
Lessons for today, in time to matter?
What if vital information about what happened with the presidential tally is in the hands of people working for the donor-funded election assistance operations who wish they could provide that information and answer the vital questions?
Published today in The Elephant: FREE,FAIR AND CREDIBLE? Turning The Spotlight On Election Observers in Kenya | The Elephant by Ken Flottman.
Discussing Kenyan elections can get tense, even among friends who are not Kenyans and try to be relatively dispassionately analytical. I have copied here one of my emails from an ongoing exchange in late August during the pendency of the Presidential Petition in the Supreme Court. My friend with whom I was corresponding is a Westerner who knows far more about Kenya (and lots of other relevant things) than I do and is someone I greatly respect (he is also a layman as far the legal profession goes). My friend was much more sanguine than I about the IEBC’s implementation and use of the KIEMS Results Transmission System, both in terms of facts and law. This explains how I saw things (and still do):
Uploading an alleged Form 34A offline after the election and reporting of results reflects a failure of the use of the RTS by its terms as consistently represented by IEBC and IFES until well after the election.
It is simply not the same thing at all in my opinion.
Even ELOGs sample in their PVT found 13.5% of Polling Stations did not publicly post Form 34A. If it wasn’t scanned and transmitted in real time, or at least scanned with delayed transmission upon being moved into a coverage area contemporaneously, and it also wasn’t publicly posted, then it cannot credibly treated as if it was reliable without explanation and evidence.
Your figure of 29,000 and the IEBC tweet claiming all but just over 1000 leaves a huge gap in a very short time period. (Further, I understand you to refer to some “backlog in uploading them” which apparently refers to something other than KIEMS transmission, so I am not sure at all that I am really understanding your argument.)
I also disagree with your characterization of “clear rules” of Kenyan election law implementing the Maina Kiai court decision against the IEBC. IFES advised to the contrary in their last pre-election publication on the process that I am aware of, the July 20 FAQ that also explained how KIEMS was to work.
People may have gambled that Chebukati could use the Court of Appeals ruling to announce on day 3 of 7 “final results” from most but not all alleged Form 34Bs without the 34As having been demonstrably transmitted to the Constituencies to generate the Form 34Bs. This tactic might very well win the Supreme Court of Kenya, legitimately or illegitimately, but I don’t find it persuasive myself, nor do I find that provides any justification for the assertive lack of basic transparency.
Kenyan lawyer Nelson Havi’s piece in The Elephant from about the same time gives a good summary of the issues in the Presidential Petition and the Petitiiners basic case: “KENYA ON TRIAL: Truth, Justice and the Supreme Court.”
Lots of good journalism out today, but this story from Peter Fabricus in my evening Daily Maverick Weekend Thing strikes me as hitting many of the right notes: “Kenya’s courts step up to electoral plate.”
One of the most important lessons from today is how cowed Kenya’s media really is by the Government. This decision did not have to come as quite such a suprise if Kenya’s media had felt free–or been brave enough–to just cover the polling stations and constituency tally centres. But we went through this in 2007 (when results were broadcast then taken down), and 2013 when self-censorship was the order of the day.
Today, Kenya took a big step forward on the rule of law — a sign that perhaps the press can become in the future in fact as free as the Constitution provides and the West pretends.
For Kenyan must reads, start with Nanjala Nyabola, “Why I’m proud to be an African today,” at IRINnews.com.
“IEBC’s high-tech system to guard against ballot stuffing” The Standard July 22, 2017
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has assured that the integrity of the August 8 election has been guaranteed through tamper-proof technology.
The Kenya Integrated Elections Management Systems (KIEMS) has unique features that will make double voting, ballot stuffing, and irreconcilable voting patterns impossible. IEBC is already preparing to deploy 45,000 KIEMS kits to be used in all the 40,883 polling stations across the country.
Every polling station has been allocated a Kit with a maximum number of 700 voters depending on the size of the polling centre. By implication, voters in a polling station cannot exceed the allocated number.
The KIEMS technology has two main functions in this election. The first is biometric identification of voters on the election day and results transmission after counting the votes.
The Commission has made it mandatory for all voters to be identified biometrically to close the doors for possibility of resurrection of dead voters.
IEBC Chief executive officer Ezra Chiloba said the Commission has invested heavily in technology and can guarantee successful transmission of election results.
“We have no choice really. The law already demands of us to electronically transmit presidential results from the polling station to the tallying centres,” he said.
After counting of results, the presiding officers in the presence of party agents are expected to type the total number of votes garnered by each candidate into the kit.
The kit aggregates the results automatically and the total number of votes cast for all the candidates is recorded. In cases where the number of voters exceeds the total number of registered voters, the kits shall automatically reject the results. This measure, according to the Commission, effectively makes ballot stuffing impossible.
As an additional measure to guarantee the integrity of elections results, the presiding officer shall scan Form 34A using the KIEMS kit. The Form 34A is signed by both the presiding officer and party agents. Once scanned, the presiding officer shall, together with the text results, send the same to the national tallying centre and constituency tallying centres.
The kit shall equally report turnout trends periodically throughout the day. With this kind of monitoring, the Commission says, ability to identify abnormal voting patterns is guaranteed.
At the end of the voting, said Mr Chiloba, the presiding officers in the presence of party agents are required to reconcile the number of voters recorded by KIEMS as having voted and the number of ballot papers issued.
“We have two procedures that minimise the risk of ballot stuffing. One, the voter turnout as recorded by KIEMS. Two, the ballot papers reconciliation that happens at the end of voting. The number of ballots papers issued and the records of voter turnout as registered by KIEMS should be able to reconcile,” he said.
The Commission contends that once the presiding officer has pressed the “Submit” button, the results cannot be changed by anyone.
Using an encrypted format, the results shall then be transmitted to the tallying centres through a secure network in real-time. The public will be able to view the results online. Similarly, Media will have a dedicated connection to access real-time results as well.
According to ICT sources within the commission, the KIEMS have a unique in-built audit trail. The in-build audit trail enables the commission to collect all the kits and to retrieve records from the SD cards for any analysis at the end of voting. This in-built accountability tools implies that the process of voting can be subjected to objective scrutiny at any point in time after voting.
. . . .
Clearly, much of what Chiloba and the IEBC described here just over two weeks before the election did not actually happen after the votes were cast and counted on election day.
Why? Well, much of the explanation likely rests on the new information disclosed in the Registrar’s reports on the Forms 34A and Forms 34B and the IEBC ICT review in the Supreme Court litigation. Other things were going on within the process than described.