27 July 2013

Kenya: EACC Queries IEBC Bosses Over BVR Kits

THREE top officials of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission are being investigated over how its biometric voter registration kids were sourced and acquired.

They have been identified as persons of interest in the probe by the Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission over the acquisition of the Electronic Voter Identification Devices. Most of the biometric kits failed to work and the March 4 election was forced to revert to manual tallying despite the recommendations of the Kriegler Commission that it be fully electronic.

The EACC has already interviewed the three top officers and believe that procurement rules may have been flouted. The sources said the three implicated each other while being questioned.

One investigator involved that proper procurement systems were in place but failed due to internal fights over tenders, lack of coordination among departments, and negligence.

The BVR kits were sourced from France while the UK and Canada provided the financing. The EACC probe team is expected to visit the three countries in the near future.

"The team may also go to China as there is reason to believe that the company that supplied the kits partly got them from there," said an EACC source.

The probe team has been asked to prepare three reports. One is on the EVIDs (the electronic voter identification devices), one on the solar lamps used during elections, and one on the Biometric Voter Registration Kits.

There will check allegations that Face Technologies, a South African firm awarded the tender to supply the EVIDs, may have sourced the kits from China without the required specifications.

Allegedly the EVIDs were not inspected before deliver unlike the BVRs where the commission sent officers to France to inspect them.

Former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and other Cord politicians have criticised the IEBC over the mass failure of the EVID kits during the elections. This was one of the grounds for their petition challenging the election of President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The IEBC has maintained that everything was above board and the technological failures were not deliberate.

"The BVR kits were 100 per cent efficient. What failed in some areas were the electronic voter identification kits. I am not saying there were no mistakes. Yes, they happened but we are working on addressing them before the next election," commission CEO James Oswago said last Tuesday.

Oswago and IEBC Commissioner Albert Bwire said the EVIDs will be used during today's by-election.

"During the general election we discovered that the EVID batteries need to be charged over a long period of time. And as they are already in Makueni, our officers have made sure they will be fully charged in readiness for Friday's exercise," Bwire said.

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