Commissioner Roselyn Akombe of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) said during a meeting with election observers Friday morning that a number of Returning Officers have also been left out as the commission seeks to enhance the credibility of the fresh poll.
“We have vetted those who had mistakes and they will not be included in this election,” Akombe said of the more than 200 left out.
Most of those dropped were overseeing the voting exercise in areas where anomalies were pointed out by the Opposition NASA whose candidate Raila Odinga successfully petitioned the Supreme Court to annul the presidential election in which incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner.
The commission has encouraged observers to keep an eye on election officials during the repeat election to ensure strict compliance with election regulations.
“We wish to affirm and reaffirm that the polling station remains the locus of an election — that is where the will of the voter is expressed and that is why we’ve been focusing on the training of the Presiding Officers,” Akombe said while assuring that necessary amendments have been effected to protect the credibility of this month’s vote.
The commission has already gazetted 290 Constituency Returning Officers and their deputies even as it prepares to commence printing of ballot papers this week, days after Odinga announced that he will not participate in the election, accusing the electoral commission of failing to meet his demands on irreducible minimums on desired reforms.
But the electoral commission, which already received a formal letter from the veteran Opposition leader, has said he has to sign the requisite Form 24A withdrawal form, with officials in his party insisting he will not do so.
Commissioner Akombe on Friday told the election observers that the ballot printing contract which is being executed by Dubai-based printing firm Al Ghurair will be expedited to ensure timely delivery of poll materials ahead of the fresh election.
“When you’re looking at the logistics, we’re confident as a commission that we’re there. The ballot paper printing is beginning this week and we believe that we shall be able to deliver them timely to all parts of the country,” she assured.
IEBC had initially set October 14 as the deadline for the procurement of strategic polling materials but the date is deemed to have been revised following the change of the election date from October 17 to 26.
The commission also, following a High Court ruling on Wednesday ordering the inclusion of Thirdway Alliance presidential candidate Ekuru Aukot in the fresh poll, announced its decision to include all the eight presidential candidates who took part in the initial August 8 presidential election annulled by the Supreme Court on September 1.
And following the High Court judgment rendered by Justice John Mativo, Alliance for Real Change leader Abduba Dida and independent presidential candidates Michael Wainaina and Japheth Kaluyu expressed their interest in the fresh State House contest seen as a walkover for President Kenyatta following Odinga’s announced intention to withdraw from the scheduled October 26 presidential election.
Other candidates in the August presidential election annulled by the Supreme Court on September 1 are Cyrus Jirongo (United Democratic Party) and Independent candidate Joseph Nyagah.
But it still remains unclear if the environment will be conducive enough for the election on October 26, after NASA vowed to intensify protests across the country, with daily demonstrations planned from Monday next week to continue pushing for reforms at the electoral commission—including the exit of some of the top officials it accuses of bungling the August election.