Battle Lines Drawn Over The Contentious Elections Law

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The Kenya Elections Act Amendment Bill virulent acrimonies is yet another classic example on the dictatorial tyranny of the President Uhuru Kenyatta administration crowned with outright massive abuse of financial might.

AG Githu Muigai and President Uhuru Kenyatta

The chaotic drama that has followed this legislation right from its introduction to the forceful passing of it not only at the National Assembly but also the Senate goes a long way to show on how desperate President Kenyatta and his deputy are determined to stay in power even if it means passing un-popular flawed legislation.

Indeed it must not be forgotten that the speaker of the National Assembly, Justin Muturi, the majority leader Aden Duale and a host of other Jubilee legislators were commanded to go to State House to meet the President when the opposition legislators successfully blocked the National Assembly from sitting the contentious law having been part of the day’s business.

That was just the beginning of the dramatic theatrics that widely exposed President Kenyatta’s machinations and manipulations of the entire process not only through the happenings, but also the financial might and tyranny of numbers to suit his whims.

Therefore it came as no surprise that Attorney General Professor Githu Muigai defending government positions and failures, especially when those positions are irrational must be the toughest job. It makes a highly learned law professor argue like a village wag.

Listening to Prof. Muigai argue the government’s case on manual backup for counting the votes at this year’s general elections before senate yesterday, the man was practically struggling against his conscience to convince Kenyans that ours is a manual voting system.

That this is assisted by some components of electronic processes; just because you have to present yourself physically at the voting center, get identified, and then mark the ballot paper manually before dropping it in the ballot box. He then emphatically stated that electronic gadgets’ failure is always guaranteed.

He seemed to put more weight on the manual aspect of the voting process and downplayed the more important electronic processes of voter identification, using EVIDs (Electronic Voter Identification Devices) and the electronic result transmission system, used to send results to the tallying center, after the counting of votes.

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The two electronic components of the voting process are what makes ours an integrated electronic voting system and they are the main safeguards against possible vote manipulation. The two are what Jubilee is hell-bent to back-up manually. You can only read mischief in the zeal with which they are pushing it because there is absolutely no plausible reason to back up the two manually.

If we are to follow Prof. Muigai’s argument that ours is mainly a manual voting system, then can we say that even receiving money through Mpesa is manual? Since you have to present yourself physically at an agent’s shop, identify yourself, operate your phone manually and the agent goes ahead to count the money manually, after which you manually sign a special book before you are handed the cash!

Truth is there is no electronic process that doesn’t have a manual component. But the manual component is supposed to support the more efficient electronic process. That doesn’t make the entire process manual like Githu would like us to believe.

Identifying folks manually, in case the EVIDs fail. The EVIDs are not supposed to fail. Those babies are powered by batteries which can last up to over 10 hours when fully charged. With a backup battery, power shouldn’t be an issue.

As for quarry workers who lost their fingerprints, we should interrogate whether we want to open up the entire system to fraud just because of a few people who lost their fingerprints? There must be a way of identifying genuine voters, who lost fingerprints, other than reverting to a manual register identification process.

The manual transportation of results is completely hilarious. The argument that there might be network problems is too lame; in this day and age when people have been using satellite phones to communicate from any cave in the world, for over 20 years now.

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Manual result transmission means putting the returning officer of a polling center in a vehicle, with the results and some police escort, so that he/she can physically transport the results to the tallying center in Nairobi, from a far-flung areas say Mandera! Now, have we become that Neanderthal?

This is like saying, if you want to transfer money from Busia to Mombasa, through M-pesa, and you find the system is low, your backup plan should be hopping into the next bus and taking the money to Mombasa yourself. It doesn’t make any sense at all, especially if the money is needed urgently. Who knows what can happen on the way?

When the worst blow came against virulent opposition of the law in the senate the opposition leaders under their umbrella alliance were indeed justified to declare that a great betrayal has been committed against Kenyans.

A press statement signed by Cord Leaders Raila Odinga, Moses Wetangula, Kalonzo Musyoka and Cyrus Jirongo read: “Our Parliament has witnessed some bizarre scenes and moments between 2013 and now. It has witnessed several attempts by the Jubilee regime to raid the constitution and overturn the will of the people for individual gain. It has witnessed blatant efforts to reintroduce dictatorship in the country in the name of giving the President power to fight insecurity. The list is long.”
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But the spectacle that began in the National Assembly during a special sitting late last month and ended in the Senate last night, count among the most bizarre. It stands out as a blatant willingness by the Jubilee regime to sell out the entire country for no reason other than the survival of the increasingly unpopular corruption-ridden government.
One by one, Jubilee senators, disregarding irregularities and illegalities in the process, cast their ballot for the Bill whose sole aim is to make it easy for the regime to allow underage and dead voters to cast their votes in addition to stuffing the ballot boxes in the elections slated for August 2017.

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The Leaders said: “Jubilee committed a great betrayal on the people of Kenya last night in the same way it did last month in the National Assembly. Jubilee has disowned what was initially a bipartisan agreement that pulled us from the brink and turned it into a full-blown national and government crisis.”
“In its desperate bid to create opportunities to rig the election, Jubilee senators went as far as fraudulently casting votes using their nominated senators who had no authority from the elected senators to represent their respective delegations.

During all the discussions in both the National Assembly and the Senate, Parliament was put under siege by the overwhelming presence of the Police and other security agencies whose purpose was to intimidate legislators into passing the laws under duress,” the went on.

They said this is now a crisis because the people of Kenya are determined today more than ever to hold free, fair, transparent and credible elections the results of which will have to be verifiable. We will respond to this betrayal of the people comprehensively, decisively and firmly.

The declared: “We therefore wish to announce that we have invited all our elected leaders; members of county assemblies, members of the National Assembly, senators, governors and women representatives both elected and aspirants on opposition tickets to a meeting next Wednesday, 11th January 2017 at the Bomas of Kenya to deliberate on the developments.

The opposition leaders said that at this meeting a critical decision will be taken and communicated to all Kenyans on their plans to deal with this betrayal of the people by Jubilee and ensure free, fair, transparent and credible elections in August 2017.

  -Additional Reporting By A Special Correspondent

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