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IEBC ‘did not verify’ any Okoa signatures

Tuesday March 29 2016

Dr Catherine Kamindo, Okoa Kenya signatures verification team leader, displays one of the booklets containing signatures at IEBC offices in Nairobi on March 24, 2016. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP

Dr Catherine Kamindo, Okoa Kenya signatures verification team leader, displays one of the booklets containing signatures at IEBC offices in Nairobi on March 24, 2016. PHOTO | EVANS HABIL | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

JOHN NJAGI
By JOHN NJAGI
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The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission and Cord have differed over the former’s rejection of Okoa Kenya referendum signatures that led to the collapse of the opposition drive to amend the Constitution.

In a statement, the IEBC on Monday sought to clarify that it did not verify the signatures presented by Cord for the referendum drive.

The war of words follows the collapse of plans for the plebiscite by Cord after the commission ruled that the coalition had failed to get the one million signatures required for the proposed amendments to be subjected to a referendum.

The IEBC said only 891,598 signatures out of the 1.6 million submitted by Cord had been found to be authentic.

“The commission would like to make it clear that it did not at any point verify the authenticity of signatures presented in support of the Okoa Kenya initiative,” said IEBC Communication Manager Tabitha Mutemi in a statement on Monday. “Any mark was admitted as an intention or consent by a petitioner.”

She said the records that were rejected were those not found in the voters’ register.

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However, Cord, through the spokesman for party leader Raila Odinga, Mr Dennis Onyango, dismissed the statement as baffling and “consistent with the IEBC’s double face and battered character.”

In a statement, Mr Onyango said: “The idea that the IEBC verified signatures and rejected some of the submissions from Okoa Kenya based on ‘faulty’ or non-existent signatures originated from IEBC itself.

“It is the reason the IEBC last week specifically drew the attention of the media to those parts of the books that had unique signatures, including drawings.”

Mr Onyango alleged that at the time the IEBC rejected the signatures it was working with a “limited, biased and preconceived definition of ‘signature’. This is also consistent with the incompetence that plagues IEBC.”

He accused the IEBC of backtracking, saying it was characteristic of it to do so. He cited lack of clarity on the number of voter registers and even the number of registered voters from the commission.

“In 2013, even the number of votes presidential candidates scored in various polling stations kept shifting,” Mr Onyango claimed, reiterating Cord’s position that the IEBC should be disbanded ahead of the 2017 General Election.