The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been caught up in yet another controversy after an MP claimed it played a role in the botched elections in Burundi. Gem MP Jakoyo Midiwo claimed IEBC provided at least 150 pieces of Electronic Voter Identification Device (EVID) to Burundi’s electoral commission, which were used in the disputed polls.
“We have evidence that IEBC participated in the electoral process in Burundi that turned out to be one of the most chaotic electoral processes in the region in recent years. The EVID laptops were used in this exercise,” he said. But IEBC dismissed Midiwo’s allegations as mere gossip.
Spokesperson Andrew Limo said IEBC donated 150 ordinary laptops following a request from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs for assistance to the National Independent Electoral Commission of Burundi (CENI) on December 4, 2014 through their embassy in Nairobi.
“The commission donated 150 laptop-based EVID through the Kenya Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The kits were cleaned of all data and software, therefore, could not in any way interfere with the electoral process,” said Limo.
There is every reason to blame Parliament for IEBC protests Do demonstrations make economic sense? It pays to learn from our past mistakes and turn new leaf Specifically, CENI wanted technical electoral assistance.
“The commission has noted with concern the slant of the promotional puff in The Standard on Saturday of a story intended to run today about the electoral assistance extended to Burundi two years ago. The request was made in the context of the EAC Regional Electoral Support Programme,” he said on Friday.
Limo said the forum facilitates partner states to exchange know-how and technology, hence enhancing their technical and human capacity for conducting elections. Midiwo has, however, refused to buy this explanation. “We are convinced IEBC’s role in Burundi should be investigated.
The commission told us they want to procure new EVID laptops because what they have is obsolete. Why would they want to donate obsolete equipment to a neighbouring country. If the data was wiped, who wiped the data and of what use would they be to Burundi because they are specifically BVR laptops?” posed Midiwo.
IEBC, however, insisted that the assistance was processed in accordance with the law saying.
“The assistance was processed in full compliance with Kenyan procurement and disposal laws (Section 129 (3) (a) of the Public Procurement and Disposal Act, 2005 and the transfer was permanent,” explained Limo.
The Gem MP also said he will be making public a Hansard report in which he said, the Government denied making any form of assistance to any electoral body in the region.
“It was just the other day when I asked Foreign Affairs PS Monica Juma which authority the ministry used and who advised them to allow IEBC to participate in a foreign election. The IEBC Act does not in any way contemplate a situation where the commission can work with other regional electoral bodies or dispose of their assets to foreign bodies.
She answered in Hansard, which I will make public that Foreign Affairs cannot involve itself under any circumstance in such activity and that my information was rumours and speculation,” said Midiwo.
However, The Standard on Sunday obtained a letter in which Chief of Staff and Head of Public Service Joseph Kinyua instructed the then Foreign Affairs Principal Secretary Karanja Kibicho to proceed and grant the request by Burundi’s electoral body. The letter dated January 27, 2015 referenced as ‘2015 Burundi Elections:
Request for Kenya’s support’ reads in part, “The matter of a request by CENI for support from our IEBC during their forthcoming elections is noted. This office approves the request and gives you a go ahead to fully support our sister state.
” Specifically, the Burundi electoral body had requested for ballot boxes, three to four vehicles (4 wheel drives), some photocopier machines and some laptops.The last presidential elections in Burundi were roundly dismissed by the African Union, European Union and United Nations observers.