September 25th 2017

Top Stories / National

IEBC fires director who attended Ruto birthday bash; Raila had demanded action

"The Commission on 29 May 2017 relieved the procurement director Lawy Aura of his duties necessitated by incompetence that has made operations untenable as we fast approach the General Election,” the chairman said.

By Free Press Reporternewsdesk@kenyafreepress.comTuesday, 06 Jun 2017 11:07 EAT

Mr Aura, facing dicontent, calms down bidders for election materials at a recent tender opening in Nairobi.

The electoral commission IEBC has axed two senior officials over the past two weeks, one of whom was a well-known family friend of deputy president William Ruto's.

The ICT director James Muhati, who has been sent on a 30-day compulsory leave, is reputed to interact with the DP regularly and was accused by colleagues of attending a recent birthday party Mr Ruto hosted at his Karen residence, according to sources who spoke to this website.

The commission has said that Mr Muhati was frustrating the audit of the voters' register. His firing is reported to have followed a stormy meeting of the commissioners in which he was identified as a stumbling block on the effort to compile a clean voters' register.

However, before the audit of the register began, opposition leaders had demanded the director's removal from his post over his links with Mr Ruto, as this website exclusively reported following the NASA leaders' first meeting with then new IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati on February 8.

At that meeting, the NASA leaders raised the claim that some senior IEBC staff members, including specifically the ICT director, had been compromised by the Jubilee Party, according to a source who briefed this website on the deliberations at that meeting.

Our source had informed us that CORD leader Raila Odinga would supply information to the IEBC chairman detailing these claims at a later date. Also identified by Mr Odinga for her Jubilee connections was a senior finance manager, according to details this website published at that time.

The source divulged to us that Mr Odinga had wanted the ICT directed vetted for his close relations with Mr Ruto, a relationship that was allegedly premised on his wife's long association with the DP's wife Rachel Ruto. "The director's wife went to school with the DP's wife, and the two couples meet often at Mr Ruto's Karen home," this website reported then, based on the CORD sources.

Last week, in addition to the ICT director, IEBC also axed procurement director Lawy Aura on grounds that he was incompetent. The body accuses Mr Aura of delaying procurement of ballot materials, "making operations untenable” ahead of the general elections coming two months away in August.

The IEBC chairman said in a statement to media that the commission had noted with “deep concern” the growing anxiety with the ballot procurement “in particular the bidding process and ultimate selection of the supplier.”

"The Commission on 29 May 2017 relieved the procurement director Lawy Aura of his duties necessitated by incompetence that has made operations untenable as we fast approach the General Election,” the chairman said.

“We have noted with great concern the growing anxiety associated with the ballot procurement. The Commission is addressing the issue of the procurement of ballot material with utmost urgency.”

The audit of the voters' register is seen as a crucial step towards ensuring the credibility of the election. Among other fears expressed by the opposition are double registration, with some ID numbers used to register up to 10 voters.

Also, Kiambu County, the home of President Uhuru Kenyatta, is alleged to have over 60 percent of its population registered as voters, yet its demographics is that the proportion of underage children is higher than that of eligible voters.

The commission with other partners is expected to hold a workshop in two weeks whereby IT professionals are expected to interact with the IEBC officers to share knowledge on the preparedness for the election.

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