The electoral commission has started the process of auditing the voter register even as it reduced the time for political parties to conduct nominations in a bid to meet strict deadlines set in a new law.
The audit will, however, delay by at least five weeks following a gap in the elections law to define its methodology, according to the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Ezra Chiloba.
IEBC had set the scrutiny to end on January 3, 2017 but in the revised timeline, the process will be completed by February 17, 2017 after verification and approval by Parliament.
Mr Chiloba on Friday said the process would be conducted by audit firm KPMG, which was picked among the 12 companies that had bid for the tender to scrutinise the 15.85 million listed voters.
“KPMG was the successful bidder, contract to be signed today (Friday). Four firms were able to submit technical and financial proposals, two were technically responsive and their financial bids opened,” said Mr Chiloba in a press statement.
The audit is meant to authenticate genuine voters in the register by weeding out ghost voters.
The audit, ICT policy and engagement of stakeholders are part of the IEBC’s fulfilment of the 2016 Elections Laws (Amendment) Act, which led to the exit of Mr Hassan's team.
The choice of KPMG to look into the voters roll was faulted by opposition leaders said it lack experience.
"KPMG has never been contracted to audit a voters register anywhere in the world," ODM leader Raila Odinga said on Friday, adding that they feared mistakes in the voters list may never be corrected.
Scrutiny of the voter’s roll has been an emotive issue with the opposition Cord coalition accusing the electoral commission of keeping a register that is not up-to-date.
It also formed part of issues that were discussed by the 14-member bi-partisan parliamentary committee that looked into the exit of the Issack Hassan-led team.
This is the second time the IEBC is revising its election preparation schedule to meet the deadlines set out in 2016 Elections Laws (Amendment) Act.
In the new guidelines issued by the commission, all political parties will be required to conduct their primaries at the same time the commission will be registering candidates.
This is because timelines provided for in the new law do not factor in resolution of disputes arising from nomination, Mr Chiloba said.
As a result, the duration for party primaries has been reduced to 14 days and will now end by June 2017.
Disputes arising from nomination will have to be settled within seven days and will begin on June 3 and end on June 9.
“The commission has consequently rationalised the timelines to take into account all the legal processes envisaged by the law, including dispute resolution,” said Mr Chiloba.
“Both party primaries and the registration of candidates by the commission could occur on the same date. Nominations roadmap proposed by the IEBC must be adhered to by all actors if we have to be efficient,” he added.
Mr Chiloba urged speed in the resolution of concerns raised by a section of political parties, including ODM, on the law governing campaign and election finances as the deadline it issued elapsed.
The National Assembly is set to hold a special sitting next week to amend the Election Campaign Finance Act to loosen timeframe for submission of details of financial accounts by parties and candidates.
The proposals were made by National Assembly's Justice and Legal Affairs Committee chairman Samuel Chepkonga.
ODM had on Wednesday moved to court to challenge the timelines issued by IEBC.
The commission also announced that the registration of additional voters would begin in January and would include Kenyans in the diaspora.
This process will coincide with the coming in of new commissioners, according to Mr Chiloba.
IEBC had targeted to register at least an additional eight million voters before the 2017 General election but Mr Chiloba said they had only managed a paltry 1.5 million in the past processes.
The balance of six million, he said, would be met through continuous voter listing and mass voter registration campaigns set to begin next year.
Consequently, the acquisition of the new integrated electronic electoral system may not be in place in time in readiness for verification of voters by April 2017.
This, according to Mr Chiloba, is based on the processes involved, including an endorsement by the technical committees as well as strict deadlines given to the commission.
The new IEBC schedule is as follows:
1. KPMG to start audit of 15.85 million voter register to end on January 18, 2017 as opposed to December 4, 2016 recommended earlier.
2. Report to be presented to Parliament that will have 14 days to vet it till February 1, 2017
3. Implementation of report by IEBC ends on February 17, 2017.
4. Political parties’ nominations moved from April 13, 2017 to April 26, 2017.
5. Disputes settlement from nomination to be done between June 3 and June 9, 2017.
6. IEBC targets to enrol eight million additional voters by 2017 General Election. Since 2013, slightly over 1.5 million enrolled.