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Audit of Kenya 2022 election on track with nomination of ruling party team

Kenya’s governing coalition has finally nominated its three representatives to a bipartisan panel tasked with overseeing an independent audit of the processes of the country’s disputed 2022 presidential election, easing the opposition’s fears over the pace of proposed electoral reforms.  

The six-member panel, proposed by a bipartisan committee set up as part of a political deal to end a wave of anti-government protests that shut down the economy last year, should have been constituted within 21 days after the adoption of the committee’s report by Parliament on February 22.

It is now expected to start the process of appointing a reputable firm to conduct the audit of the last election.

The Supreme Court upheld President William Ruto’s narrow victory against his closest rival in the election, Raila Odinga of Azimio coalition.

But Odinga and his opposition coalition have until recently questioned the election’s integrity, citing claims by four of the seven electoral commissioners who oversaw the election that the results used by then electoral commission’s chairman, Wafula Chebukati, to declare the winner on August 15, 2022 were “opaque”.

Their calls for an independent audit of the electoral commission’s electronic results transmission systems to verify the integrity have been extremely polarising, with politicians affiliated to the ruling Kenya Kwanza coalition accusing their rivals of setting the stage for someone to challenge the president’s legitimacy.

If it happens, the audit of the electoral commission’s electronic results transmission and vote tallying systems will give the country an opportunity to not only put to rest claims of vote rigging in the 2022 polls but also to slay the ghosts of its election technology failures.

Kenya embraced technology in voter registration, voter verification, and results transmission with the enactment of a set of laws in 2011 to improve transparency and accountability in electoral processes plagued by mistrust arising from the disputed outcome of the 2007 presidential election, which triggered a wave of violence that left more than 1,000 people dead and pushed the country to the brink of civil strife.

But the move has failed to avert bitter falling-outs from each of the three presidential elections since Kenya became the 58th country to adopt technology in its elections globally.

While overly suspicious politicians are partly to blame for questioning the integrity of elections technology, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) hasn’t been faultless either.

An audit of the IEBC’s voter register by KPMG in the run-up to the 2022 elections, for example, found glaring weaknesses in the electoral commission’s data management system.

Some 246,465 dead voters were found to be still in the register, 226,143 used wrong identification documents while 481,711 were duplicated.

The audit also flagged mass transfer of voters to other polling stations without their consent.

Perhaps the most disturbing finding of the KPMG audit was the activities of some mysterious returning officers with password access and permissions to “transfer, delete, insert, trigger, truncate and update the voter register at will”.

Uncertainty, however, remains over the latest independent scrutiny of Kenya’s electoral processes after a court last week blocked the formal appointment of the new election audit panel by Parliament pending the determination of a suit filed by a petitioner alleging the move is illegal.

The scope of the pending audit of the electoral process is also not clear.

Requests by Mr Odinga and other petitioners in the Supreme Court case to be allowed full access to the electoral commissioner’s servers were, for instance, thwarted by Smartmatic International, the technology supplier, citing intellectual property rights.

Source: The East African



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