President Kibaki has called a crisis meeting on Monday with the electoral commission following its controversial decision to use the discredited 2007 manual voters register for the next General Election.
The meeting was sanctioned by the Cabinet at State House on Friday where preparations for credible and peaceful elections topped the agenda.
The issue is also expected to feature prominently in meetings involving President Kibaki and Prime Minister Raila Odinga, and United States Secretary of State Hillary Clinton on Saturday morning.
A statement from the US State Department said Ms Clinton would first meet the President and Prime Minister to push for a credible General Election before holding talks with Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission officials led by its chairman Issack Hassan.
“The Secretary will meet President Kibaki, Prime Minister Odinga, and other government officials to emphasise her support for transparent, credible, non-violent national elections in 2013,” US State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland said.
Mrs Clinton, who flies into Nairobi on Saturday morning from Kampala, is also scheduled to meet Chief Justice Willy Mutunga, a representative of local election monitors, Mr Kennedy Masime, the chairman of the National Cohesion and Integration Commission, Dr Mzalendo Kibunjia, and Constitution Implementation Commission chairman Charles Nyachae.
Date with election monitors
Ms Clinton will also meet the chairman of the Commission for the Implementation of the Constitution Charles Nyachae, Federation of Women Lawyers and a representative of election monitors.
The electoral commission meanwhile is expected to brief the President on the controversy surrounding its decision to cancel the tender for an electronic voter register, Justice Minister Eugene Wamalwa said.
The meeting will also be attended by MPs who sit on the parliamentary Constitutional Implementation Oversight Committee.
“The minister for Justice told us that the President will meet the commission on Monday before convening an urgent Cabinet meeting to deliberate on the way forward,” said a minister who asked not be named for this story.
At its meeting on Friday, the Cabinet also backed biometric voter registration, saying it will enhance the credibility of the next elections.
A statement from the Presidential Press Service said the Cabinet resolved to support the biometric voter registration system as a policy guideline to help build public confidence in the electoral system ahead of the General Election.
It also waived the Sh300 fee required for those seeking to replace lost national identity cards.
“This will ensure that no one is denied their voting right as outlined in the Constitution. The Cabinet encouraged those who may have lost their IDs to get a replacement as soon as possible,” the statement noted.
The electoral commission earlier this week announced it was cancelling the tender and revert to the manual registration of a projected 18 million voters.
It had planned to buy Sh3.9 billion worth of equipment to enable it use fingerprints and facial imagery to identify voters.
The biometric kit is reputed for its efficiency in eliminate cases of impersonation, multiple voting and other forms of electoral fraud that were reported during the last election.
Mr Hassan said the tender was cancelled because of the controversy surrounding the procurement process.
The commission said it will start manual registration of voters immediately after the by-elections set for September 17 in Ndhiwa, Kajiado North and Kangema constituencies.
“We will register all the 12 million Kenyans who had been enrolled before the referendum and six million new voters will also be given an opportunity to register,” said electoral commission chief executive James Oswago.
Out of the 12.4 million, 1.5 million in 18 constituencies were registered electronically using the biometric voter registration system.
Politicians and civil society have exerted pressure on the commission to restart the process to give Kenyans confidence that it will deliver free and fair elections.
On Thursday, the commission came under fire from the oversight committee and the parliamentary committee on justice and legal affairs who accused it of mishandling the tender.
The MPs suggested that the commission consider borrowing the kit from other countries such as Ghana. Three presidential hopefuls, Mr Musalia Mudavadi, Mr William Ruto and Mr Peter Kenneth have also criticised the manual system, saying it was open to electoral fraud.
“The fiasco surrounding the awarding of the tender for the Biometric Voter Registration kits has eroded public confidence in the forthcoming election,” Mr Kenneth said in a statement on Friday.
“The challenge of sourcing for kits must not be an excuse for returning to the archaic and inefficient manual registration process. The employment of technology will make the process more efficient and improve the credibility of the voter register,” he added.