Top Stories / 2017 Elections
Thursday, 07 Sep 2017 16:40 EATnewsdesk@kenyafreepress.com
Kenya has been plunged into a political crisis following the leakage of an explosive internal memo from the chairman of the electoral commission, IEBC, to the body's chief executive officer upholding virtually all charges by the opposition that the nullified August 8 presidential election was deliberately and blatantly rigged by the commission's senior staff.
The chairman, Wafula Chebukati, has demanded answers about the premeditated failure of the main safeguards employed by the commission to ensure the reliability of the results transmission system whose failure was at the heart of the opposition petition at the Supreme Court that nullified the election.
A snapshot of the IEBC chairman's memo. Other pages are below.
The memo upholds most of the main claims advanced by the opposition NASA coalition in the Supreme Court. But more than that, it charges the CEO, Ezra Chiloba, for making unilateral key decisions without the commissioners' knowledge, including the irregular creation of log-in credentials in the chairman's name for an account that was used to edit election results (potentially illegally) in the commission's server systems more than 9,000 times.
The passwords were created by two ICT department employees working under the then suspended ICT director James Muhati. The director, who had been suspended for non-cooperation with external auditors from KPMG auditing the Voters Register as required by law, resumed duty without any explanation by the commission days to the election.
The ICT director then in office, Chris Chege Msando, was tortured to death and his body dumped in a forest a week to the election. His killers have not been identified, but a number of world newspapers including The New York Times, The New York Review of Books and the Financial Times have reported that his killing could have been planned by powerful forces out to rig the election.
"Mr Paul Mugo and Mr Boniface Wamae – under instructions from the director, ICT Mr James Mutahi, availed a memo dated 31st August 2017, to the chairman’s office through your office, which memo confirmed the creation of the username account and a password in the name of the chairperson of IEBC - without my knowledge or consent, and subsequently this account was used to undertake over 9,934 transactions. I direct that you take immediate action against these officers and report back by close of business (CoB) today," the chairman's memo demands.
In the Supreme Court, NASA demanded that the IEBC should open its server systems to scrutiny, but the commission disobeyed an order to that effect issued by the court, a decision that many believe contributed to the court nullifying the election. Opposition leader Raila Odinga has maintained that information in the servers confirm that he won the election, and his party is using the IEBC's failure to comply with the order (contempt of court is a crime in Kenya) to demand the ouster of the CEO and other senior staff from IEBC.
At the same time that the memo surfaced, national newspapers have reported of there being sharp divisions in IEBC, with four commissioners and the chairman on one side (demanding accountability on staff implicated in rigging the election) and five commissioners on the opposite side (supporting the implicated officials to a hilt).
As the Kenya Free Press reported earlier, the chairman had been taken aback by Chiloba's directions to staff directing them to prepare for repeat elections without the slightest recognition of the allegations made against him by NASA about deliberate decisions to subvert the nullified election. In the memo, the chairman directly took issue with Chiloba's handling of process to conduct the new election as if there was never a Supreme Court ruling indicting the IEBC.
"First you issued a Memo to the Commission’s staff date 1st September,2017 referenced IEBC/CEO/1/1/09/2017; in the said memo you appear to contradict to the position adopted by the commission and communicated by the chairperson on the behalf of the commission vide a press statement on the 1st of September, 2017. Further the memo also fails to appreciate the grave indictment by the Supreme Court in the above subject petition, with regard to the manner in which the commission conducted the impugned presidential elections. Respond and explain the basis for your contradiction."
Some facts previously unknown to the public, or at least not raised by the opposition, have come to light only through the chairman's memo. For example, the chairman wants Chiloba to explain why "KIEMS GPRS and Geo-fencing features were switched off from the 5th August, 2017." The KIEMS (Kenya Integrated Election Management System) GPRS and Geo-fencing features were paramount to the credibility of the election as only could ensure that results fed into the transmission system were actually from the gazetted polling stations, fed in by commission-supplied gadgets and signed by the approved officers.
It is believed that the non-functioning of the system allowed for the transmission of false data into the national tallying centre that were on the IEBC screens for days before the final results were announced. IEBC disowned the results when NASA leaders questioned them. Even the commission's lawyers could not explain to Supreme Court judges where the results came from or what they constituted.
"I was told by the commission that these were statistics or data," IEBC lawyer Paul Nyamodi said at the court. When the Chief Justice David Maraga pressed, the lawyer said the figures displayed on the IEBC screens were not the results of the election. "So what were they, and where did come from?" the CJ had demanded to know, but the lawyer didn't answer the question, urging the judges to read the IEBC chairman's affidavit on record.
"Additionally respond and explain why the commission experienced non-validation of individuals/voters after the KIEMS identification, especially obfuscating the logs on voters cleared per polling station to vote. Respond on how many voters were subsequently allowed to vote by manual identification and why," Chebukati wrote to the CEO.
News about the chairman's memo filtered to newsrooms as television and radio stations reported that some armed youths in a Nairobi suburb had attacked members of ethnic communities that supported the NASA presidential candidate Raila Odinga in the election. The reports indicated that the youths were flushing people from public service vans known as matatus and demanding they produce their identification documents. Those from the communities that supported Raila were robbed of money and other belongings.
The attacks in Githurai near Kenyatta University followed a meeting by a fiery pro-government MP who had declared at a public rally that members of President Uhuru Kenyatta's community were preparing to defend the community against alleged attacks (in the annulment of the election outcome) by Raila, NASA and the Supreme Court.