IEBC, presidential candidates to meet over ‘extra’ election forms

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati

IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati (center) addressing journalist outside Jogoo House, Nairobi on July 28, 2022. The electoral agency will Friday hold talks with the four presidential candidates over the printing of parallel results declaration forms.

Photo credit: Lucy Wanjiru | Nation Media Group

The electoral agency will today (Friday) hold talks with the four presidential candidates over the printing of parallel results declaration forms.

Deputy President William Ruto, who is the United Democratic Alliance (UDA) candidate, Thursday joined Azimio la Umoja One Kenya coalition party flag-bearer Raila Odinga in accusing the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) of having an extra set of results declaration forms, complete with the security features.

Mr Odinga said the forms could be used to transmit results other than those declared by the IEBC at the polling stations or constituency tallying centres.

The meeting will be held at the Bomas of Kenya, which, incidentally, will host the national tallying centre, from where IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati will declare the winner of the August 9 presidential election.

Dr Ruto, Mr Odinga, Roots Party candidate George Wajackoyah and his Agano Party counterpart David Waihiga Mwaure are expected to attend the meeting or send their representatives.

“The commission has taken note of the concerns raised by some of the representatives of presidential candidates regarding the printing of forms 34A and 34B. The purpose of this letter is to invite you or your representatives to a consultative meeting, to address the concerns raised on Friday, July 29, at the Bomas of Kenya at 11 am,” IEBC chief executive officer Hussein Marjan said in a letter to the four.

Dr Ruto’s Kenya Kwanza camp, through UDA secretary-general Veronica Maina, in a letter seen by the Nation, backed Azimio’s call for a meeting with the IEBC.

“…in line with our discussions at the airport today (Wednesday), July 27, 2022, during the ceremony to witness the offloading of the first batch of the presidential ballots, all stakeholders, including Mr Paul Mwangi representing the Azimio coalition presidential team, reached a consensus that the IEBC needs to schedule an urgent meeting to clear the air as to why there is need to print a second set of Form 34A. In our view, the commission should stick to one set of Form 34A,” the letter read.

“We hereby request you to call for this proposed meeting to resolve these pressing issues relating to the printing of critical Form No. 34A and Form No. 34B. Kindly revert before close of day, July 28, 2022.”

Honour the invite

Ms Maina Thursday told the Nation they will honour the invite.

“We will definitely be represented. We are also concerned about the issue of the forms,” she said.

Mr Mwangi, who is Mr Odinga’s chief legal adviser, had protested that the printing of the extra set of results declaration forms was likely to affect the integrity of the results. In his letter, Mr Mwangi said the commission had printed two books of Form 34A, labelled as Book 1 of 2 and Book 2 of 2.

Azimio said its representatives to the printing press sought clarification on the matter and were told the commission needed the extra copies of Form 34A to give to election observers, the media and other stakeholders.

“We, however, reject this explanation. Firstly, because Book 2 of 2, from which it is alleged copies for stakeholders will be obtained, is more than just a copy. It is actually a set of fully fledged Form 34As complete with all security features similar to those in Book 1 and 2,” said Mr Mwangi in the letter to Mr Chebukati.

The coalition said the forms in Book 2 of 2 had every requirement of electoral laws and regulations and, therefore, could be used as substitutes and that would likely open room for submission of “election results”.

“It is clear that Book 2 of 2 was intended to be a copy of Book 1 of 2 because it has a separate and distinct serial numbering. Book 2 of 2 is not an intended continuation of the declaration in Book 1 of 2 but actually a separate and parallel result declaration form,” said Mr Mwangi.

He noted that having two forms could be exploited to manipulate the presidential election. Form 34A is the official presidential result declaration form at the polling station. It also emerged the IEBC did not order printing of Form 34B. The poll agency said the form was not necessary as it would “self-generate” when results from Form 34A are keyed in.

Mr Mwangi told the Nation that he would represent Mr Odinga at Friday’s meeting. Asked whether they would seek answers from on the recent arrest of three foreigners with election-related documents, Mr Mwangi said: “Tomorrow's (today’s) meeting as per the letter is on forms.”

The IEBC has in the past one week been entangled in a war with the Directorate of Criminal Investigations (DCI) over the arrest of Venezuelan nationals.

‘Chebukati lying’

DCI George Kinoti had accused Mr Chebukati of lying about the role of the three individuals arrested with election materials in their luggage at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport.

On Wednesday, the commission distanced itself from Seamless Technologies, a local agent of Smartmatic International, which was awarded the ShSh3.2 billion tender for voter identification equipment and software.

Mr Justus Nyang’aya, the commissioner in charge of technology, on Wednesday told the Nation that the commission only has a contract with Smartmatic.

“It’s them (Smartmatic) who chose the local company. That was not our duty. This is not the first time they are working with Seamless Technologies, they had worked with them even before this election,” Mr Nyang’aya said.

He pointed out that Smartmatic had included in the tender that it would work with Seamless Technologies as its local agent.