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Court nullifies Sh2.5bn ballot paper tender

Tuesday February 14 2017

IEBC

IEBC chief executive Ezra Chiloba (right) and chairman Wafula Chebukati. They have been advised to cancel the ballot tender if there is no agreement among political players. FILE PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

ABIUD OCHIENG
By ABIUD OCHIENG
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The electoral commission on Monday warned that its preparations for the August elections had been thrown into uncertainty after the High Court nullified a Sh2.5 billion tender awarded to a Dubai-based firm for printing ballot papers .

Justice George Odunga in his verdict held that the tender, which was awarded to Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company, had failed to comply with the Election laws.

The case had been filed by Cord against the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board.

“It was unreasonable for IEBC to proceed with the award of tender without taking into account the new regulations,” said Justice Odunga.

The ruling is a blow to the polls body, which is racing against time to have ballot papers printed in readiness for the General Election set for August 8.

Justice Odunga directed IEBC to begin a fresh tendering process which adheres to the applicable laws. But IEBC said its preparations for the elections had been thrown into confusion even as it put on a brave face to assure Kenyans that it was determined to conduct fair and free elections.

“While the decision sends the preparations for the General Election into a period of uncertainty, the commission wishes to assure the country that it will do everything possible to ensure that we have credible elections,” said Mr Andrew Limo, IEBC communications manager.

He said that the commission was awaiting a brief from its lawyers and was likely to move to the Court of Appeal to challenge the ruling. “The commission is yet to receive the full details of the judgment. Our options are still many and include filing an appeal. However, we await the advice of our lawyers on the same,” he said.

SUPPLY 130M BALLOT PAPERS

IEBC had given Al Ghurair firm notice of award to supply 130 million ballot papers.

The electoral body had opposed Cord’s application, saying the case had been filed way out of the time limit and that it was merely an attempt to politicise the matter and cause unnecessary delays.

Cord had, however, maintained that the specification of the ballot papers, declaration forms and poll registers as contained in the tender documents were not in conformity with the requirements of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2016 and the integrated electronic electoral system as established by law.

“Cord’s interest is only to ensure that Kenyans enjoy a free and fair General Election,” lawyer James Orengo for Cord had told the court.

The award of the tender had previously been challenged by a losing bidder who lodged an appeal before the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board citing irregularities in one of the most sensitive tenders in the electoral process. But the application was dismissed.

The tendering process has been engulfed in controversy since last year, with claims that there was lack of transparency in the exercise.