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Kajwang urges IEBC to shelve voter kits plan

Tuesday July 31 2012

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang wants Kenya's electoral body to cancel plans to conduct biometric voter registration ahead of next General Election July 31, 2012. FILE

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang wants Kenya's electoral body to cancel plans to conduct biometric voter registration ahead of next General Election July 31, 2012. FILE 

By LUCAS BARASA

Immigration minister Otieno Kajwang wants Kenya's electoral body to cancel plans to conduct biometric voter registration ahead of next General Election.

Mr Kajwang said due to time constraints, the system could only be used in the 2017 polls.

Addressing journalists at his Nyayo House office in Nairobi Tuesday, Mr Kajwang said the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) should resort to manual registration of voters and perfect the tallying system.

“The IEBC should recruit clerks and give them forms to fill at home and compile and forget about thumb prints and photography, which needs a lot of time and testing if it does not want the country to go through what it experienced in 2007,” Mr Kajwang said.

Mr Kajwang said biometric voter registration requires a complex system and enough time for trials and that it could not be effected within the remaining time before the elections.

“We are not talking about integrity of IEBC. IEBC could be having the best intention but it will not achieve it in the time span available.

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"We don’t want what happened in Uganda where billions of shillings were allocated for production of national IDs but the guys who won the tender fled. What would happen if the same happens to Kenya in an election year,” Mr Kajwang said.

Mr Kajwang said the tendering process for the BVR was steeped in confusion because of fighting among competitors “who have bought so and so".

“Secondly we don’t even know whether the biometric system will work,” Mr Kajwang said.

He said the current controversy over the tendering process could move to court and thus cause more delays.

“The IEBC cannot deliver within the remaining time as the tender process must be open and transparent. We should forget about it until 2017,” Mr Kajwang said.

He said the registration of voters should start this month or latest in September, as per the IEBC timelines.

The minister said the problem is not in registration but in tallying of votes and announcement of results.

“Why impose on us a new and untested system? We are laying an infrastructure for an election that will decide whether we have good or bad election  and that infrastructure must be solid, tested and accepted,” Mr Kajwang said.

Mr Kajwang said IEBC should gain the courage and cancel the BVR.

On issuance of national IDs, Mr Kajwang said his Ministry was committed to ensuring all eligible Kenyans got the documents.

"The delay is because of our technical people but they are trying their best to reverse the situation. We want everybody to register as per the Constitution. We have to make it happen," Mr Kajwang said.

He said there's no cause for alarm or tension as his Ministry has enough material and officers on the ground for registration. He said a special gazette notice will be issued on Friday to waive the Sh300 charges for ID applicants.

On Monday, the fate of next General Election was thrown into confusion following a turf war at the electoral commission over the controversial biometric voter registration tender.

After a day-long meeting chaired by IEBC boss Ahmed Issack Hassan and the secretariat to discuss the matter that has captured public attention, an advert signed by chief executive officer James Oswago was sent to media houses cancelling the Sh3.9 billion tender.