Where do matters stand regarding audit of voter register?

Joshua Libale confirms his voter details at M.V Patel Memorial Hall in Huruma ward, Turbo, Uasin Gishu County, on May 15, 2017. The IEBC should do better in explaining its plans regarding the use of technology. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP

What you need to know:

  • The EU is currently planning an observation mission to Nairobi to cover the elections in August.
  • The IEBC is not communicating enough on where matters stand regarding the audit of the register.

I am in Brussels, Belgium, as part of a delegation of Kenyan civil society leaders who, under the banner of Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu, have been engaging various organs of the European Union regarding the forthcoming Kenyan elections.

Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu is a coalition of Kenyan civil society organisations that came together more than one year ago to promote political dialogue in the preparation for the forthcoming elections, based on a concern that technical support alone would not lead to free and fair elections and that there must be an accompanying political dialogue.

The need for political dialogue is especially important because of the deep political divisions that form the context under which the country is preparing for its next election.

The purpose of our mission here is to better understand what the EU is planning on the Kenyan election, and also to convey key messages regarding the election.

It has become clear that the EU already had a good understanding of what is going on in Kenya.

Their information derives from many sources, including a mission to Kenya last month by a delegation of five members of the European Parliament’s Democracy Support and Conflict Prevention Committee. 

The mission, whose members met with all the main players involved in preparations for Kenya’s next elections, was led by Alojz Peterle, a former Prime Minister of Slovenia, who was also the head of the 2013 EU election observation mission to Kenya.

In addition, a number of EU officials have visited Kenya regularly and are a source of information, as well as the resident mission in Kenya.

Only last week, the EU ambassador to Kenya, Stefano Dejak, issued a statement following a meeting with President Uhuru Kenyatta and, although the statement appeared overly optimistic about the country’s commitment to a path towards free and fair elections, it represents evidence of the close EU engagement with Kenya’s elections.

The EU is currently planning an observation mission to Nairobi to cover the elections in August.

We learnt that this will be the largest observation mission that the EU has deployed in sub-Saharan Africa, and reflects the importance that is attached to the forthcoming election.

The diplomatic context in which the mission is taking place includes uncertainty over what the United States plans to do about Kenya’s polls.

The traditional partnership between the EU and the US has been affected by the uncertainty that has affected US politics since the election of President Donald Trump.

We conveyed the message that, in the face of a possible decline of US interest in Kenya’s affairs, the EU will need to exercise greater leadership than ever before.

We have also conveyed the message that political polarisation in Kenya means that there is no internal capacity to resolve major political crises should these occur during the election and suggested that the EU should be prepared to provide external support if this is needed, and should seek the partnership of the African Union, which is also preparing to deploy an observation mission during the elections.


In 2007, the AU/EU partnership played a key role in stabilising the country following the crisis caused by the post-election violence.

Other key issues discussed include the general state of preparedness for the elections.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission has delayed the finalisation of the register of voters, which it is yet to publish.

At the same time, the IEBC has invited voters to verify their registration but, in the absence of a publicly-available register, it will never be clear what effect the verification process had on the register.

In the last election, the IEBC published a provisional register on 18 December 2012 after it closed voter registration.

The register showed that the IEBC had registered 14,337, 399 voters, a number that became a reference point in the subsequent analyses of the results.

In the weeks that followed, this number changed repeatedly without sufficient explanation being offered.

It was possible to monitor and comment on the register for 2013 because its raw form was publicly available as soon as the registration was completed.

The fact that the provisional register has not been published up to now means that there is already a lower standard of preparation in this election than in the last one.

Matters are compounded by a lack of information about the status of the audit that was to be carried out on the register.


Again, logically, the public should have been afforded an opportunity to independently monitor the audit process, and to assess its consequences on the register.

Because the register has not been published, it will not be possible to independently verify the results of the audit or to assess its effects on the register.

The IEBC is not communicating enough on where matters stand regarding the audit of the register.

While, initially, the firm of KPMG that is auditing the register provided periodic information to the public, such information has since dried.


Delays in electoral processes and the lack of public information are two clear weaknesses that affect public confidence and lead to a picture of unpreparedness.

The IEBC has also not provided enough information on the technology infrastructure that it will deploy in the elections.

Since technology was such a big issue in the 2013 elections, and given the importance that the Joint Parliamentary Committee gave to this issue, the IEBC should do better in explaining its plans regarding the use of technology.

Under a different set of circumstances, the unpreparedness might not have been such a big problem as it may end up becoming in this election.


The underlying political toxicity means that there is much less room for error than would have been the case if the political atmosphere was less strained.

Another issue that came up for discussion is the role of civil society in the elections.

While the relationship between the government and Kenyan civil society has deteriorated significantly, the hope was expressed that the forthcoming election will provide an opportunity for a mending of fences, towards a more constructive relationship.