Tempers flared at the Bomas of Kenya national tallying centre on Thursday as the electoral commission began the verification of presidential results.
Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) officials struggled to maintain order after the United Democratic Alliance claimed that unauthorised forms 34A were being sneaked in.
Agents of presidential candidate William Ruto clashed with electoral officials over the suspicious forms, creating a ruckus that was only defused with the intervention of IEBC commissioners.
Led by UDA Secretary-General Veronica Maina, they threatened to walk out of the process of receiving and collating forms 34A and 34B. Ms Maina engaged the poll body’s officials at the quality assurance desk before other UDA agents joined in for at least 10 minutes.
With a crowd forming and commotion seeming inevitable, IEBC Vice Chairperson Juliana Cherera and Commissioner Francis Wanderi intervened to calm matters and prevent things from getting out of hand.
Collation of forms
UDA agents had also complained about the number of individuals allowed at the four desks set up for verification and collation of forms. IEBC corporate affairs manager Tabitha Mutemi later ordered agents who are not authorised at the auditorium to leave.
“If you have no role at the centre, kindly leave. We want to give the officers at the verification desk space to do their work,” said Ms Mutemi.
IEBC Commissioner Abdi Guliye said they have established a four-tier verification process, signalling that the announcement of the final results may be made over the weekend.
Prof Guliye said the commission has set up four desks for the verification of results from the 291 constituencies, including prisons and the diaspora. They are the preliminary checks, coordination, administrative and quality assurance desks.
He said the Constituency Returning Officers (ROs) bringing forms 34A and 34B will have to go through the desks before the results are tallied into form 34C by Mr Wafula Chebukati, the presidential returning officer.
The ROs will first report to the preliminary desk, where basic checks such as whether the forms have been stamped, signed and entry of data done appropriately. Electoral officials at the desk will also do a quality check on the entry form 34B against the original form 34A.
At the coordination desk, IEBC officers will check for any error in the forms then generate an error report. The desk has been divided into two and will also look at whether forms uploaded on the public portal match what’s been brought by the ROs.
At the third desk, officers will check what their counterparts in the first and second desks have done to ensure everything is alright. At the administrative desk, officers will do quality check of the forms before they are kept in safe room in the auditorium, which is manned by police.
“Once the quality assurance desk is done, they can share the original forms with the presidential returning officer. The originals will then be kept under lock and key in our safe,” said Prof Guliye.
He urged agents to cooperate with electoral officials doing the verification for a transparent process. He barred party agents, observers and the media from taking photos of IEBC officials.
“You are not allowed to take pictures in any of the desks. We don’t want the faces of our officials to be splashed all over the world,” Prof Guliye said.
Presidential agents will be allowed at all the desks to witness the presentation of the forms and the authentication process. Mr Chebukati said they expect all ROs to submit their forms today. “They have started arriving and we hope to conclude the process as soon as possible because the collating of results in the constituencies is complete,” he said.
Mr Chebukati also waded into the different results being displayed by various media houses, saying they will all be similar at the end. “There should be no panic on the results seen in the media. At the end of the day, they will be the same since they are from the same source,” he said.
The number of allies of the two leading presidential candidates has increased at Bomas as the nation awaits results.
Among the new faces who joined their colleagues yesterday from UDA were Dr Ruto’s presidential agent Josphat Nanok, former Gatundu South MP Moses Kuria, Nandi Governor Stephen Sang, former Budalangi MP Ababu Namwamba, and Eliud Owalo.
They joined Ms Maina, Gladys Shollei, Soipan Tuya and Wilson Sossion who have been camping at Bomas since Tuesday. In Azimio, the new faces are the coalition’s executive director Raphael Tuju, head of presidential campaigns Nderitu Muriithi, former Kitui Governor Charity Ngilu and ODM chairman John Mbadi.
They joined Azimio Mr Odinga’s chief agent Saitabao ole Kanchory, his deputy Dr Carole Karugu, and Prof Isaiah Kindiki. More activities are expected at Bomas as more ROs deliver their forms.