IEBC declares it will not announce disputed polls

Monday December 17 2012

IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan (right) follows proceedings at the Leisure Lodge Beach Resort in Diani, Kwale County on December 17, 2012. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU

IEBC chairman Isaack Hassan (right) follows proceedings at the Leisure Lodge Beach Resort in Diani, Kwale County on December 17, 2012. Photo/GIDEON MAUNDU NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ALPHONCE SHIUNDU [email protected]

The chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), Mr Isaack Hassan on Monday said that he will not announce election results if the polls are rigged.

Speaking in Ukunda’s Leisure Lodge, at a meeting between top Kenyan leaders and the country’s business leaders, Mr Hassan said the commission was committed to making sure that the next elections were free, fair and credible.

“All leaders, all contestants, have to accept the authority of the commission. If things happen, they will happen by default, not by design. Under my leadership, I will not be able to announce results where I know there has been rigging of elections,” the IEBC boss said.

Kenya goes to the polls on March 4, 2013. The registration of voters is expected to end on Tuesday.

He added: “There’s so much to be done, too little time and very high expectation. We’re doing everything possible to ensure we have a free and fair credible election. But please understand that it will not be a perfect election. It will not be 100 per cent perfect. There will be some imperfections. We ask for your understanding and appreciation.”

In his address to a packed plenary that was dubbed The Speaker’s RoundTable, an address which was beamed live on NTV, Mr Hassan said every commission officer had to stick to the straight and narrow of face three-year jail sentence for participating in any form of electoral malfeasance.

“Nobody is going to risk personal liability for this exercise,” said Mr Hassan.

President Kibaki, who will not be participating in the polls, but who was a beneficiary of an announcement in 2007 in which there were complaints of electoral malfeasance, was also at the meeting.

There was also Prime Minister Raila Odinga who has, for the life of the coalition government, insisted that the 2007 election was stolen from him.

Vice President Kalonzo Musyoka, who teamed up with President Kibaki after the controversial 2007 announcement that lit the country, was also there.

Mr Odinga and Mr Musyoka have teamed up to succeed President Kibaki.

Mr Hassan said IEBC will have 4,000 international and domestic observers, including some from the Commonwealth, the European Union, the African Union and other electoral observer groups.

The IEBC boss said he was in Ghana in early December when they were having elections there, and he saw, “serious challenges” but somehow, after the polls, that West African country was able to hold up and stay together.

“Biometric machines were breaking down. Polling stations were opening at 11am in Accra itself, 430 polling stations were opened on polling day, election results were announced after four days, these were all challenges which faced the country. (In the end) the people of Ghana came together to make sure the name of Ghana was protected,” said Mr Hassan.

“I want to remind you what Nana Akuffo Ado (Ghana’s opposition candidate in the just concluded polls) said. He said: ‘I am not prepared to accept political power, over the blood of the people of Kenya. I want to hear that from the leaders and other candidates in Kenya. Kenya should be the same way it was yesterday, it should be the same way it was this time next year” Mr Hassan added.

The Prime Minister had upbraided the IEBC for being “over ambitious” in seeking to register 18 million voters in 30 days.

“I think it was over-ambitious for the IEBC to expect to register 18 million voters in 30 days. IEBC will also need to accept that challenges in their procurement was responsible for delays in giving Kenyans sufficient to register. I don’t think it is right to blame the voter for failing to register on time. 30 days is too short a period of time to register 18 million people,” the PM said.

But the IEBC boss came back to the podium and set the record straight.

“As Kenyans, if we’d turned up every day… if only 50 people turned up at each of the 15,000 centres with the biometric kits, we’d have reached 18 million. Bangladesh managed to register 85 million people in 30 days. Nigeria registered 80 million people in three weeks. We could have done it. But this country is one of last minute rushes, including coalition formations. We form coalitions on the last day...it is something we need to have a paradigm shift,” Mr Hassan said.

The leaders had met at the coastal town under National Assembly Speaker Kenneth Marende and the Kenya Private Sector Alliance, to assess the country’s readiness for the elections.