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Report: ECK made mistakes

Discussion in 'International Forum' started by Keil, Apr 1, 2008.

  1. K

    Keil JF-Expert Member

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    Apr 1, 2008
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    Revealed: How ECK bungled the election

    By Beauttah Omanga

    Glaring irregularities that contributed to last year’s chaotic General Election have been laid bare in a confidential Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) report compiled for the organisation’s self-evaluation workshop.

    Among the glaring errors that marred the smooth conduct of the elections include the commission allowing some returning officers in the tallying room at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre (KICC) to alter forms 17B, which contained details of votes cast in each constituency.

    According to the document, other irregularities included incidents of returning officers filling results in wrong forms, while others failed to follow procedure while making corrections.

    But the most shocking revelation in the report is that some returning officers went to the KICC tallying centre without proper election results, which are usually entered on form 17A.

    "Some ROs came without form 17A and asked to fill fresh forms at the KICC, which is irregular," the report says.

    The ECK document was made public in Nairobi on Monday by Kenyans for Peace with Truth and Justice (KPTJ), a group of human rights NGOs.

    The report, Independent Review Commission into the 2007 General Election, was the basis of a workshop ECK held at Sun ‘N’ Sand Beach Resort in Mombasa, that was rowdily disrupted by civil society groups on March 9.

    The report is thought to have fallen into the hands of NGOs when their members stormed the hotel where ECK chief, Mr Samuel Kivuitu, was chairing the workshop.

    Reacting to the disappearance of the ECK files, Kivuitu remarked: "They can eat the files if they so wish." It was not clear what was contained in the vital files then.

    However, KPTJ officials on Monday told journalists that an ECK commissioner gave the report to them.

    Kituo cha Sheria Executive Director, Mr Harun Ndubi, said an ECK member provided the report.

    "It is a true report of deliberations and resolutions of the recent Mombasa retreat by ECK. That is why we are preparing a suit on the basis of the report," said Ndubi.

    Although the report is a general comment on the problems that hit the elections, it does not zero in on the presidential election whose outcome sparked widespread post-election violence.

    "The workshop report is astounding in its avoidance of the elephant in the living room," said KPTJ in a statement.

    But the ECK argues in the report that since no petition was filed against the counting and tallying of the presidential vote, it was in order for the commission to present the certificate to the person sworn in as President.

    As a result of the document in which the ECK admits anomalies in last year’s elections, the civil society is preparing to file 15 counts in court with which the ECK chairman, 21 commissioners and 19 officials would be charged in a private prosecution.

    Contacted on the telephone last night, the deputy ECK chairman, Mr Kihara Muttu, said the commissioners would take time to pore into the document to verify if it was the one discussed in Mombasa. Only then would they give a verdict, he said.

    Another ECK commissioner, Mr Jack Tumwa, said he would like to review the report before commenting.

    Among other anomalies listed in the report include voter registration, where black books were manipulated and several names added to registers.

    "The black books were introduced to assist those missing in the registers and those who were double registered. However, the books do not have dates, were too many and dating back to many years and most presiding officers who were in the field did not know how to use them," the report indicates.

    The commission questions the quality of election materials ordered from Britain. They included embossers, fliers, seals and hacksaws.

    "Election officials were surcharged for broken material yet these materials got damaged due to poor quality," the report says.

    It admits that there was no clear sequence in the announcement of results in some tallying centres. It resolved that in future, the sequence should be presidential, parliamentary and civic election results in that order.

    There was also no consistency in the announcement of results and issuing of certificates by returning officers to winners.

    Partial results

    In some cases, returning officers gave certificates to losers or declared some candidates persons winners only to change this the following day.

    And due to pressure from team leaders, some returning officers sent partial results to the tallying centre, which were announced as if they were final results.

    It was noted that there was lack of continuity in receiving results among teams due to changes in day and night shifts.

    But in a 16-page document, Lesson Learnt, the ECK recommends that returning officers should, after announcing the results, immediately issue a certificate to the winner.

    On the way forward, the ECK undertakes to ensure that in future, election regulations are complied with, especially that parties follow the proper channel in nominating candidates.

    The ECK describes university students hired as clerks during elections as inciters and suggests that their role in future be reviewed.

    Hiring of 51 inexperienced returning officers, the ECK notes, also contributed to the confusion in last year’s elections.

    In a new move, the commission suggests that electronic voting and transmission of results be introduced, and that the completion of forms be done at the polling and constituency level and not at the national centre as was witnessed at KICC.

    All observers should be compelled to give their reports to the ECK chairman before releasing them to the public.

    But the ECK says that the media was biased in their coverage and hence "excelled in poisoning the public in the local and vernacular languages. Some media houses were supporting some political parties openly", the report says.

    The commission exonerates itself from the violence that rocked some parts of the country, saying the regions experienced violence long before the elections were held.

    The commission is demanding prosecutorial powers and says the role of ECK commissioners should be spelt out at the tallying centre.

    The Standard
     
  2. K

    Keil JF-Expert Member

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    ECK declines to react to ‘serious mistakes’ report

    Story by MUCHEMI WACHIRA

    The Electoral Commission of Kenya Tuesday declined to react to a report saying that it had admitted making serious mistakes in the way it conducted last year’s elections.

    “We are not aware of such a report and we are only reading this in the papers today (Tuesday),” an ECK official said.

    The report, said to have been compiled by ECK commissioners during a recent workshop in Kilifi, pointed out several irregularities in the election process.

    It says that there was no communication between presiding and returning officers during the elections, whose disputed results sparked countrywide violence.

    The ECK official, who did not want to be identified, said chairman Samuel Kivuitu was shocked to read the story Tuesday.

    “The chairman will not react because he does not know the source of the report,’’ the official said.

    On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Kivuitu chaired a meeting of the ECK staff at his office.

    It is not clear what was discussed but sources said the chairman expressed concern at the report, which he believes was leaked to the Press by some commissioners or members of staff.

    “The chairman has said that whoever gave you that report should react to it,” the official said.

    According to the report, the black books used to assist voters whose names were missing from the official registers and those who were registered more than once could not be used because they had not been updated.

    The report was given to the press by lobby group Peace with the Truth and Justice (KPTJ) on Monday.

    Mr Kivuitu declined to answer calls from the Nation.

    The commissioners said the issue was so sensitive only the chairman could react.

    ECK in spotlight

    The report has put the ECK in the spotlight since it says that returning officers gave certificates to losers in some constituencies while others changed the names of persons to whom certificates had been given.

    There were several irregularities in the whole election process, as the report reveals, and this prompted some lobby groups, including KPTJ to react.

    KPTJ said it would join those seeking to start private prosecutions against ECK staff and commissioners.

    The lobby groups which have vowed to prosecute the commission over the fiasco said on Monday they will use the admission made in the report as evidence.

    However, attorney-general Amos Wako has said that private prosecutions against the ECK should be put on hold until the independent review commission set up under the power-sharing deal wraps up its work.
     
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