Monday morning, the Elections Observation Group (ELOG) held a press conference to issue its preliminary statement on the verification of the just concluded Ekuru Aukot led Punguza Mzigo referendum signatuire colelction initiative.
Ekuru and team had come up with among other things, a nine point wage bill reduction suggestion for the referendum, that they say will save the country trillions of shillings.
ELOG, this morning raised some questions on the credibility of the data collected
The statement was presented by ELOG’s National Coordinator Mulle Musau.
Below are some of the points as stated by ELOG.
In compliance with Article 257 (4) of the Constitution of Kenya, Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) undertook a verification exercise to confirm whether the Constitution of Kenya Amendment Bill, 2019 of the Third Way Alliance met the requisite constitutional threshold. Premised as a permanent domestic election observation platform, ELOG observed the verification process that was conducted at the Kenya Institute of Curriculum Development (KICD), Chui Hall.
A Summary of Observation Findings.
- Uniformity of significant number of signatures found in filled forms: ELOG observed that some of the signatures that had been appended against individuals’ names were conspicuously uniform raising the question of authenticity and reliability of the signed forms in question.
- Lack of signature repository: Since IEBC had no repository of specimen signature (like the banks do), there was no way to compare and verify the same.
- ELOG also noted that despite heavy investment by IEBC to have voters being registered using their biometrics, both the petition and subsequently the verification process did not benefit from this opportunity.
- Duplication of ID numbers: Cases of names that shared the same ID numbers were observed by FLOG.
- Missing details: ELOG observed that some of the forms submitted for verification lacked details such as ID nos. and signatures.
- Failure by IEBC to make public the names and signatures: ELOG notes with concern that IEBC has okayed 1.2 Million signatures submitted by the promoters of Punguza Mizigo Initiative (ease the burden) without giving Kenyans an opportunity to ascertain e indeed the said signatures were given with their consent.
- Delay in funding for the verification exercise: ELOG noted with concern that IEBC had no funds set aside for it to carry out this exercise and had to appeal to get it.
A Summary of Recommendations
- Open Data and Public participation: In the absence of a repository of signatures, IEBC should publish the list of names in the Kenya gazette or in any other public medium, in compliance with open data principles, so that those whose details are captured in the forms can confirm that they consented to the petition. This is a critical issue that would further authenticate the process, enhance transparency and avoid unnecessary litigation.
- Fast track the enactment of a referendum regime: While ELOG notes that a Referendum Bill, 2019 has already been developed to operationalize Art 257; it has never been tabled in Parliament. In the absence of a standalone statute on Referendum, the Commission has been relying on Part V of the Elections Act, 2011 that provide for the conduct of Referendum. These provisions are still inadequate to support the entire referendum process.
- Establishment of Electoral Fund: ELOG notes with concern that IEBC’s lack of independent Fund continues to hamper its operations and processes and therefore proposes that an independent fund, similar to the Political Parties Fund, be established to give the Commission independence and autonomy in budgeting and execution of its mandate.
ELOG comprises of Centre for Governance and Development (CGD), Constitution and Reform Education Consortium (CRECO), Ecumenical Centre for Justice and Peace (ECJP), Institute for Education in Democracy (IED) Supreme Council of Kenya Muslims (SUPKEM), The United Disabled Persons of Kenya (UDPK), Federation of Women Lawyers Kenya (FIDA), The Youth Agenda (YAA), Catholic Justice and Peace Commission (CJPC), National Council of Churches of Kenya (NCCK) as members.
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