Thursday, March 30, 2017

‘Credibility of Election Will Be Determined By Implementation of Code of Conduct’


Monrovia - The Chairman of the opposition Coalition for Democratic (CDC) Nathaniel McGill is calling for the implementation of the Code of Conduct, noting that doing so will determine the credibility of the 2017 presidential and legislative election.

McGill in a news symposium Wednesday said as a party that have faith in the rule of law, they will abide by whatever law that is pertaining to the elections.

“With reference to the Code of Conduct, our opinion is that the law should be deal with the Code of Conduct.

“If it is not dealt with in a fair and transparent manner, it could endanger the credibility of the elections before it even starts.”

“Anyone who is trying to give a different meaning to the law, that person is trying to undermine the electoral process and ensure that there is a crisis.”

Since the Supreme Court ruled on the Code of Conduct, politicians who believe they have been affected by article 5.1 of that law have issued disclaimers of not been affected by the law while others have pointed fingers specifically naming some major actor whom they believe are affected by the Supreme Court’s ruling.

In the case of Mr. Karnwea, he was named one month after joining the Liberty Party as vice standard bearer of the opposition LP two days after he resigned from the FDA, a decision many critics of the LP have said, is a complete defiance to the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Code of Conduct.

Some of those affected by the Code of Conduct and their supporters are confident of being let off the hook relying on the ambiguous definition of the word “desire” used in Section 5.1 & 5.2 of the Code of Conduct.

During the interview McGill argued that Article 51 of the Liberian Constitution states that there shall be a vice President and shall contest on the same political ticket with the President, so to McGill with this provision the definition for Desire given by many does not hold water or has no legal basis.

He expressed hopefulness that the pending election will be free, fair and transparent even though the CDC had earlier raised some issues with the voter registration process.

“We had some concerns with the voter registration process and we raised it and that is what we have tried to do during these periods of election."

"Our issue is not to accuse anyone of trying to manipulate the process, but to ensure that the process is free fair and credible.

 “There are attempts by some individuals who know they will not win election but want to cause confusion and the CDC will oppose anyone who knows she/he cannot win and wants to cause confusion. We are very prepared to compete with anyone at all fronts,” he stated.





Tuesday, March 21, 2017

Kenya is launching the world’s first mobile-only government bond

Kenyan citizens will soon be able to buy government bonds on their cell phones. Kenya’s Treasury said today that the M-Akiba bond, the world’s first mobile-only government bond, would go on sale on Thursday after a delay of almost two years.

Kenya first announced plans for the bond, named after the Kiswahili word akiba or “savings,” in late 2015, as a way to give ordinary Kenyans access to the country’s capital markets. Investors can buy in increments as small as 3,000 shillings (about $30), compared to the minimum of 50,000 shillings individuals had spend to spend previously to buy government bonds.

“This product is for a mama mboga, farmer, employee, hustler or whatever,” the Treasury said in a press release at the time, referring to women that sell vegetables at small market stalls. A month after the announcement, M-Akiba was delayed over clearance issues.
Now, the bond will be offered on M-Pesa, Africa’s biggest mobile money network that got its start in Kenya, as well as other mobile money networks. Investors can buy and sell the bonds on the Nairobi Securities Exchange via their phones. Coupon payments will be paid directly to their phones. Like M-Pesa, both smart phones and basic features phones can be used.

The bond isn’t just about offering encouraging Kenyans to save. The Kenyan government needs a new pool of cheap money to finance large infrastructure projects and an upcoming election. Only 2% of government bonds in Kenya are bought and sold by individual investors.

Last year, the IMF called on Kenya to lower its budget deficit. The country’s financing gap, expanded to 9.6% of gross domestic product last year, compared to 7.2% the year before, according to the World Bank. This budget year, Kenya plans to raise 154 billion shillings ($1.5 billion) in external borrowing.

The case of Kenya: will technology deliver a free and fair election?

Often states fail when there are either perceived or blatant election malpractices. This in turn can lead to prolonged civil unrest.
Numerous cases exist across the continent. But I will use the Kenyan case to illustrate how election processes can be compromised, and then brought back from the brink with the use of technology.
Following the election in 2007 Kenya erupted into two months of unprecedented conflict. People were unhappy with the outcome which saw Mwai Kibaki of the incumbent Party of National Unity being declared the winner ahead of Raila Odinga and his Orange Democratic Movement. Many disputed the final tally.
To preempt a similar situation in future elections, a commission led by former South African judge Justice Johann Kriegler was set up. The Kriegler Commission made several critical findings. These included instances of double voter registration, widespread impersonation and ballot stuffing. It concluded that, as a result, it was impossible to know who actually won the election.
The report also made a number of recommendations. The main ones were that technology should be used in future elections to avoid manipulation of the process.
The Kenyan government acted on the recommendations and elections electronic systems had been put in place by the time of the 2013 poll. But it wasn’t all plain sailing. There were system failures which led to another contested outcome. This was finally settled by the Supreme Court.
As Kenya gears up for the next poll in August, questions are being asked about how well prepared the country is this time round. The issue has become a particularly hot topic in the wake of the government’s decision to allow for a backup manual system to kick in if the technology fails again.
This has raised concerns that the government will pre-emptively switch to the manual system raising the possibility that the vote will be rigged.
Types of voter fraud
The Kriegler report found a range of election malpractices. These included:
  • Double voter registration. This occurs when prospective voters register twice in different locations. These voters then manipulate the system by voting twice for the same candidate.
  • Impersonation. This happens when voters whose names are on the register don’t show up to vote but are listed as having voted.
  • Ballot stuffing. This is one of the most blatant election malpractices and involves the placing of pre-marked ballot papers into ballot boxes before voting commences.
A combination of all three led to high voter turnout in the strongholds of the two main candidates, leading to a skewed election result.
The report concluded that Kenya’s manual election system facilitated the malpractices.
The place of technology
The Kriegler report recommended a number of technological fixes to address some of the vulnerabilities inherent in the manual process. These included biometric voter registration, electronic voter identification and a results transmission system.
By 2016, the 2011 Elections Act had been revised to anchor the electronic systems in law.
Kenya now has some of the most advanced election technology in place. This includes a biometric voter registration process which involves capturing biological features such as the fingerprints of prospective voters. This means that at the end of voter registration the election body can electronically audit the records, picking out and deleting duplicates.
Biometric features captured during voter registration are also used on election day to ensure that those voting are indeed those who registered.
This process is known as electronic voter identification and requires that a voter presents their biometrics for validation prior to voting. Voter identification eliminates the ‘ghost-voter’ problem as the electronic voter identification equipment keeps a tally of the registered voters who actually turn up to vote.
It also eliminates the threat of vote manipulation by requiring voters to impress their fingerprints on specialised equipment which highlights inconsistencies between the electronic and manual tallies.
The final piece of technology recommended by Kriegler - the results transmission system - ensures that voting numbers from polling stations are not changed before they reach the tallying centres.
To avoid changes in the figures approved at the polling station, the presiding officer at each station is expected to transmit the numbers electronically through a secure mobile phone.
As such, the numbers are counted electronically in real-time as they stream into the tallying centres.
The results transmission system has the added advantage of preventing fraudsters from delaying the announcement of results so as to fiddle with the numbers to meet the magical 50%+1 threshold.
The way forward
The introduction of these technologies means that Kenya is now in a position to minimise election fraud and to guarantee a credible electoral process.
But concerns remain, particularly around the contentious amendment to allow for a ‘complimentary’ voting system to be put in place in the event of technology failure.
Will Kenya’s 2017 election process revert to pre-2007 status? Only time will tell whether Kenya has indeed become a mature democratic state or whether it will join the league of failed states.



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Friday, March 17, 2017

Marsabit Governor Ukur Yattani has decamped from ODM together with other elected leaders to back President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election.
Four Members of Parliament, 25 MCAs and more than 300 elders representing the 15 communities living in Kenya’s biggest county accompanied the governor when he visited President Kenyatta at State House in Nairobi.
The MPs were Roba Duba (Moyale), Chachu Ganya (North Horr), Nasra Ibrahim (Women Rep) and Joseph Lekuton (Laisamis) who excused himself before the meeting to attend to an urgent matter. Ganya, Nasra and Lekuton all belonged to ODM.
Mr Yattani becomes the latest in the list of governors and senior politicians to defect from the opposition to rally behind President Kenyatta’s re-election.
The governor said he was decamping from ODM to the Frontier Alliance Party, which supports the re-election of President Kenyatta. This effectively means Marsabit has no opposition pointman as the governor and the aspiring governor are all on the same side.
“We have decided to leave the Opposition because the people of Marsabit are very grateful for the work you have done for us including the tarmacking of the tarmac road,” said Yattani.
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Auditor-General queries IEBC's Sh2.14 billion legal fees

Auditor General Edward Ouko has questioned the electoral body's payment of Sh2.14 billion in legal fees.

According to a report tabled in Parliament Tuesday, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was unable to account for the money, which it claims was used to pay 68 advocates that represented it in the presidential and other petitions as legal fees.

Mr Ouko, in his report, noted that the commission, as at June 2013, had outstanding pending bills relating to legal fees totalling Sh1.05 billion and questioned why the polls body went ahead to pay them more than Sh2 billion.

"A sample test of the 68 advocates that the commission instructed to represent it reveals that they have been paid Sh2.14 billion as part of the pending bills since June 2013," reads the report.

"The procurement and payment of these private legal services were done without the approval of the Attorney-General, contrary to the law. IEBC has not provided documentary evidence of the cases represented and the payments made to support the payments in excess of the pending bills," adds the report.



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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Electoral Commission, government offices in DRC's Kasai-Central vandalized

Offices of the Independent National Electoral Commission (CENI) of the Democratic Republic of Congo and several administrative offices in the Kasai-Central’s Kazumba district have been vandalized by suspected militiamen on Monday.

The administrator of Kazumba district, Godefroid Kalenga, told Congolese Radio Okapi that the militiamen suspected to be from the Kamuina Nsapu sect torched the offices and burned documents.

“The district of Kazumba has just been looted. They burned all the important documents. They looted the CENI, the territorial offices and the residence of the administrator of the territory. They are Kamuina Nsapu who left Dibaya and Dimbelenge to Kazumba,” Kalenga said.

“We have to negotiate with them. It is a movement that is becoming widespread throughout the province,” Kalenga added, calling on the government to prioritize ongoing negotiations with the group.

The CENI’s interim executive secretary, Omer Tshibala, confirmed that the militiamen attacked and looted the offices and warehouse of the Commission and took away ballot boxes, polling booths, generators, computers and other documents.

The Kamuina Nsapu militiamen from the Kasai-Central took the name of a traditional leader who died last year after an attack on his house.

The customary chief was very vocal against the authorities, and the militiamen who claim they are aligned to the leader, are spreading their insurgency throughout the Kasai region by attacking police officials and state property.

A number of people have been killed and many injured in the attacks.







Monday, March 13, 2017

#LiberiaElections: A Country At Crossroads

Presidential and Legislative elections are due in a little less than 2 years from now. But before then the United Nations Peace Keeping Force would have fully completed its drawdown of troops leaving security entirely in the hands of the country's security forces.

Already, Liberians are filled with apprehension and doubt about the capability of our national security forces to assume this all important national task particularly as we approach elections which shall without doubt be tension filled.
The Zero sum nature of politics in Liberia in which the winner takes all us a major driver responsible for the mushrooming of political parties around elections but soon die or become dormant after elections.
There is no doubt that Presidential elections especially the forthcoming elections will be a very contentious affair. In all cases, the credibility of the National Electoral body is key to ensuring public confidence in the process and enhances the prospects for peaceful acceptance of elections results.
For example the 1985 elections whose results were stolen by incumbent military leader Doe produced such copious amounts of national ill will that contributed in no small measure to the slide into civil war and general anarchy. Under the Emmett Harmon led Elections Commission, ballots were burned, ballot boxes stuffed and a host of other irregularities set into play to ensure the ascendancy of Doe.
And do as we approach these elections we find ourselves faced with the same issues of credibility with the current elections body NEC. We have long held the impression based on facts that the leadership was poor, corrupt and inept and the entire body needed to go or least be overhauled. But those concerns went unheeded.
And so we pose the question again: Is the NEC credible and can it handle the enormity and complexity of the task at hand given all that is apparent on record? Not so says Mr. Joseph Duwana, former Director of Finance and Budget at the National Elections Commission (NEC) who resigned his post in November 2014 in protest against massive corruption occurring under the watch of Chairman Jerome Korkoya.
On November 3, 2014 Mr. Duwana wrote... ." As I submit to you my letter of resignation, the cost of ballots remained double in excess of $275,000, the cost of elections material is stated in excess of $300,000, the cost of vehicles is overstated in excess of $200,000. These actions by you are possible because of the grant of PPCC which allows you to negotiate prices in excess of stated amount. Also, support from our partners is never clearly reported to the Ministry of Finance thus allowing you to charge GOL for the same activities".
It is interesting to note that Mr. Korkoya has not responded to these charges. And so there are questions whether the recent EU grant to NEC as elections support are going to be squandered just the same.
Take for example how in 2013, April 3, to be exact, Chairman Korkoya ordered the purchase for his use a very expensive vehicle costing $64,000, a Toyota Land Cruiser jeep bearing serial number JTEBD9FJ70KOO7867, a 2011 model which was sold to him on auction on February 6, 2015 at a cost of a mere $11,000.
As regards salary, Chairman Korkoya in 2014 earned a net monthly pay of $7,065.91, his Deputy earned $6,324.06 with the rest of Commissioners earning a net monthly pay of $5,731.60.
But by January 2015, net monthly pay for Chairman Korkoya had shot up to $12,283.49. A Liberian dollar component was included and it stands at a net monthly pay of LD 1,025,671.42 and that includes 300 gallons of gasoline monthly. In 2014, the Liberian dollar component was 775,171.42 calculated at an exchange rate of 83.50 LD to one USD. While his deputy received in 2014, a net monthly pay of $8,294.35 and a Liberian dollar component of LD 99,532.20 and the rest received$7,504.41 and LD 90,052.92
And so as can be seen NEC Commissioners are being more than adequately taken care of so there is absolutely no justification for such gross financial improprieties at NEC.
It must not be forgotten that it is under the Korkoya leadership such unprecedented challenges to by- elections results have been mounted to the point where the Supreme Court had to intervene. It is scary to imagine what the outcomes will be in 2017 when UNMIL will not be here with elections presided over by a crooked politician who once ran for public office but lost. So who's going to win the guy with the biggest gun or the guy with the fattest wallet?

Thursday, March 9, 2017

#LiberiaElections: Are Liberian Voters The Problem?

As Liberia march towards yet another national elections slated for October of 2017 the annunciations of “I want to be President” and "I want to be a lawmaker" are becoming more and more mundane.

Quite irritably, the frequency of these declarations have all but given the process a ridiculous tint -literally reducing it to a travesty!.

Not a day goes by in which we do not hear of the presidential and legislative aspiration of some individual.

We are inundated with announcements from those who have made their presidential aspirations public, those who have formed "de facto" exploratory committees and those who have resigned with the expressed intent of not being “inactive” come 2017.

Virtually every major Liberian politician seems to be jockeying for the proverbial front runner position. Powerlessly watching these antics are the hapless Liberian voters!

In a telephone conversation I had with a friend and brother regarding the upcoming elections of 2017 and Liberian politics in general, he intimated that it is not the candidates on the Liberian political landscape who are the problem but rather the Liberian voters themselves!

I am enticed to partly agree with him – and on that basis I would ask just what do Liberian voters really want and what are their expectations of their elected leaders?

This inquest is not rooted in the notion that Liberian voters are unsophisticated – but I am at a loss as to why they vote the way they do? Why do they continuously vote against their own interests?

Worldwide, it is expected (almost as a norm) that anyone running for an elected office gives his or her constituents an agenda and or platform – formulated mostly in collaboration with the people he or she intends to represent (mainly to address issues facing them).

Once elected, his or her successes or failures are graded on the basis of the degree of actualization of their agenda. This critical piece of politicking is missing in Liberia!

Our National Elections Commission has a statutory responsibility to sensitize voters regarding the voting process – a responsibility to which I believe they pay only lip service! The recent pattern of voting in Liberia has given us more poverty, less development but huge salaries for incompetent and mostly absent elected officials.

A cursory look at our national legislature and other elected offices around the country will reveal a motley crew of characters in leadership positions – some of whom have no business being elected. One is tempted to ask yet again, just how did these people get elected and just who voted them into office?

Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand competence?

Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand results?

Why is it that Liberian voters do not initiate a process for recalling non-performing elected officials?

Why is it that Liberian voters do not demand transparency and accountability?

Some will be quick to chalk these shortcomings up the level of education of many of the voters – I respectfully disagree! I am of the opinion that non-existent standard, very low and or no expectations, quasi-societal norms and the widespread acceptance of wrongdoings are major factors that cause us to tolerate and sometimes give excuses for incompetent elected officials.

Until the Liberian voters can start demanding that elected officials perform and duly hold them accountable, we will continue to get the mediocrity and nonperformance that we deserve - Incompetence!

Benjamin Kofa Fyneah, Contributing Writer +FrontPageAfrica Online

IEBC to notify public of technology glitches during polls

The electoral agency will publish details of any telecommunication network service providers involved in the August polls. This is contained in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) Elections (Technology) Regulations 2017 tabled in the National Assembly last week for consideration and approval. The agency will also alert all political players in the event of technological failures, and if they suspend or terminate the election technology if reliability of the system cannot be assured. "The procedure shall apply to clerks, presiding officers, and returning officers

 "In case of suspension or termination of the technology, IEBC shall immediately notify the public and stakeholders on their websites as measures are put in place to restart the system," the regulations read in part. It shall also publish details of the failures through the electronic and print media of national circulation.


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Parties begin to submit membership lists to IEBC.

Political parties begin to submit their membership lists today to the election agency, a process that will end on March 19. According to the revised the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) timelines, political parties will have to submit the names of candidates for party primaries to the commission from March 26 to April 5. The commission will gazette the names of the candidates and the dates of the party primaries between March 30 and April 12.

Political parties have between April 13 and 26 to conduct their nominations and should there be any disputes arising from the nominations, parties will have a 30-day window to solve them. It has also emerged that at least 70 political parties and Opposition’s National Super Alliance (NASA) submitted their nomination rules to IEBC at the close of the deadline last week. IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said the commission was in the process of reviewing the nomination rules submitted by 69 political parties to ensure compliance with the prescribed guidelines. “The Commission published a notice requiring political parties to

submit nomination rules by March 2, 2017. Political parties are further reminded to submit their membership lists on or before March 19,” said Mr. Chebukati.


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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Will NASA leaders succeed in eating into Jubilee strongholds?

The National Super Alliance (NASA) is crossing its fingers that its forays into disgruntled perceived Jubilee strongholds will pay dividends. Having failed to make an impression in previous elections, the NASA outfit will be counting on unfulfilled promises by the Jubilee government to the Meru people to storm into the heart of President Uhuru Kenyatta’s backyard. The new Opposition alliance has not hidden its desire to endear itself to residents of Mt Kenya East (Meru, Tharaka Nithi and Embu), who have recently displayed open defiance towards the Jubilee government. Since the turn of the year, the NASA brigade led by ODM leader Raila Odinga has been in the region three times and been buoyed by large turnouts.

Indeed, NASA’s forays into a region that voted overwhelmingly for the ruling Jubilee coalition in 2013 is causing concern, especially the effort to worm their way into the hearts of disenfranchised miraa farmers affected by a sale ban in key markets of the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.


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Tuesday, March 7, 2017

WHAT Peter Kenneth MUST do to Win Nairobi Governor Race, A Youthful Luyhia Running Mate like Hon Fwamba Will be A Game Changer!

For Peter Kenneth to clinch the Nairobi Governor seat on Jubilee ticket, he has to balance tribal interests in the city and party interests in Jubilee. First, while in terms of tribal arithmetic, the Nairobi Governor in 2017 is again a contest between the Luos and Kikuyus, it shall be decided by the small tribes in the city. Peter Kenneth and Nairobi Jubilee has to ensure that they lock in the interests of the Kambas, Kisiis and Luhyias in the city to outsmart Kidero.

So far, Team Peter Kenneth has ensured that the tribal interests of Kamba and Kisii minority in Jubilee is well-taken care of by embracing Mutinda Kavemba (Kamba) and Millie Omanga (Kisii) as the preferred Senator and Women Rep. candidates for the team. As it is, Peter Kenneth is remaining with only one card, Deputy Governor to entrench or isolate the interests of the Luhyias from his bandwagon.

Therefore, the question is not whether or not Peter Kenneth should nominate a Luhyia Running Mate, it is a question of who and when! In fact, as to the matter of time, the stock answer is the sooner the better. The vexing question is who, and we dare assert that Peter Kenneth needs to be keen to employ the Deputy Governor position not only to balance the tribal equation but also to balance party affiliations.

There are four Jubilee party persuasions that bear on Jubilee politics in Nairobi, namely former TNA followers, former URP adherents, former New Ford Kenya (NFK) members and Kamba defectors. Already, TNA followers are well-represented in Peter Kenneth camp by Jubilee incumbent Nairobi MPs and MCAs led by Nairobi Jubilee PG Chairman Maina Kamanda. URP is well represented by Hon Millie Omanga (Women Rep) and Hon Mutinda Kavemba represents Kamba defectors in Jubilee.

Traditionally, Luhyias in Nairobi divide their support between ODM and Luhyia affiliate parties namely, ANC, Ford Kenya and New Ford Kenya (NFK). It is why Jubilee poached NFK to win over a chunck of Luhyias in the city to Jubilee. It is after CS Eugene Wamalwa’s party NFK dissolved to support Jubilee, that the party now boasts conditional support of majority of Luhyias in Nairobi.

I say the Jubilee support of Luhyias in Nairobi, majority of whom are erstwhile NFK members, is conditional because it is pegged on the community’s interests in the city being take care of to their satisfaction. Nairobi Luhyias in Jubilee have been unequivocal that their preferred Nairobi Governor candidate is their former Party (NFK) leader Eugene Wamalwa. In the event that Eugene Wamalwa is not Jubilee Candidate as it seems likely, it would be foolhardy to think he still does not have influence.

As we noted above, all the other tribal interests have been taken care of by Team Peter Kenneth except the Luhyia interests. Additionally, all the party interests have been taken care of except the New Ford Kenya’s interests in Nairobi Jubilee. This can only mean one thing: in choosing his running mate, Peter Kenneth must appreciate that not all Luhyias are made equal.

Only a Luhyia who is affiliated to New Ford Kenya will fit the bill. In fact, it will help if the said Luhyia enjoys the patronage of Eugene Wamalwa and the support of the restless youthful Luhyia opinion leaders in Nairobi who have been the force behind drive for Luhyia votes to count in Nairobi. If Peter Kenneth bucks wisdom and thinks any Luhyia will fit the bill, he and Jubilee Party will pay dearly at the ballot.

So, which New Ford Kenya Politician in Nairobi would deliver for Peter Kenneth as Deputy Governor? Given his choice for Senator in Mutinda Kavemba and Women Rep in Millie Omanga, it is only fitting that Peter Kenneth picks a youthful Luhyia politician to match these three and give the community hope that while this time it is not possible to have their own Governor for Nairobi, it may be possible soon.

The right and firebrand politician for the job is none other than Hon Fwamba Nc Fwamba. He is an increasingly important voice in Nairobi politics and one of the important forces behind the merger of NFK into Jubilee. Since Peter Kenneth is looking to win Luhyias in Nairobi, especially former NFK members to his side, Fwamba will sure deliver that as he will also avail the support of the now important Luhyia young professionals registered to vote in the city.

And Fwamba is seasoned hands in Nairobi politics. He was a Deputy Governor candidate in 2013 and thereafter unsuccessfully vied as Mathare MP. Fwamba is also a seasoned political organizer since his student days at University of Nairobi where he was a SONU Vice Chairman. Therefore, his activist streak and ability to rally the masses will compensate for Peter Kenneth’s simplicity and focus on details. There is no gainsaying that Team Kenneth and Fwamba can and will take Nairobi by storm.



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Saturday, March 4, 2017

Over 1 Million Liberians Registered To Vote Thus Far – EC Chair

The National Elections Commission (NEC) has disclosed that 1,046,888 eligible Liberians have registered since the launch of the 2017 voter registration exercise on February 1.
NEC Chairman, Jerome Korkoya
This figure is part of a total of 2,552,000 forms deployed at the 19 magisterial offices across the country.

This, according to NEC Chairman Jerome Korkoya, means that 1,505,112 forms are still being processed in the field.

“We currently have a buffer of 1,300,000 forms packed to be deployed if and when the demand arises,” he said.

He told a news conference at the commission’s headquarters in the Monrovia suburb of Sinkor Monday that the forms returned to headquarters are being scanned to be placed in the Commission’s database.

Korkoya has, however, noted that given the number of registrants reported since the registration process started nearly four weeks ago, citizens’ turnout at registration centers “is not very encouraging.”

“We encourage every eligible Liberian to take advantage of the remaining days for the voter registration exercise to register,” he pointed out.

The NEC Chairman warned that citizens should not sit at home expecting that the time will be extended when the official time is being utilized, adding that “extension of time will be contingent on the availability of funding and demand.”

In a related development, the National Elections Commission (NEC) offices in Bong County have reported that 166,818 citizens have so far registered in the ongoing voter registration process in the county.

NEC lower Bong County office in Totota reported 61,669 registrants, while the upper Bong office in Gbarnga recorded 75,149 registrants.

The NEC lower Bong County office in Totota covers Suakoko, Yellequelleh, Salala, Sanoyea and Fuamah Districts, while the upper office in Gbarnga covers Jorquelleh 1&2, Kpaii, Kokoyah, Boisen, Togbalee, Panta and Zota Districts as well as Menquelleh Clan.

Speaking to the Liberia News Agency, lower Bong County Senior Elections Magistrate Barsee Kpaingbai said all of the ninety-five centers in the five districts remain open, even though some are nearing the benchmark of 3,000 registrants.

Kpaingbai told LINA that Electoral Districts 5 and 7 are currently reporting the highest number of registrants in lower Bong County, adding that there are massive turnouts at centers around the St. Paul River in Fuamah District.

At the same time, the NEC senior magistrate in Gbarnga, Daniel Newland, has told the Liberia News Agency that five centers in Electoral District Three in the Gbarnga area have been closed after each of them met the benchmark of registering 3,000 eligible voters.

Newland named the centers as the David Kuyoun Sports Stadium, Gboveh High School, William V.S. Tubman Grey United Methodist School, Wohn-A-Nehn and the Sunday Market in Gbarnga.

He said centers at John F. Bakalu, Melekie, Gbaota, Winsue and Gbelekpalai, among others, remain open in electoral District Three.

Meanwhile, the two NEC magistrates have encouraged residents and citizens of the county who have not registered to turnout for the process to ensure their participation in the October 2017 elections.

The Liberia Institute for Geo-Information Services 2008 Population Census indicates that Bong County is the third most populated county in Liberia with a population of over 350,000 residents.

In line with the LIGIS 2008 report, the National Elections Commission has set a target to register 210,000 eligible voters in Bong County.

Of that number, the NEC office in Totota is to register 100,000, while the office in Gbarnga has 110,000 eligible voters to register.

The NEC added 26 new voter registration centers to the existing 155 centers in the county before the start of the voter registration exercise, increasing the number to 181 centers in Bong County.

In 2011, the Commission registered more than 150,000 eligible voters in Bong County.

Friday, March 3, 2017

Jubilee officials ousted over bribery allegations

Interim Jubilee chairman Simon Kamau Gikuru and secretary general Samuel Macharia have been kicked out of office after claims they solicited for bribes from aspirants to accord them special favours during nominations. Nine members ratified the sacking of the two and immediately picked Ms. Jane Wanjiru Muiga as the new branch chairman while Mr. Joel Irungu has replaced Macharia. Yesterday's meeting followed a vote of no confidence the officials passed against Gikuru and Macharia a week ago. 
 "We are committed to ensure free, fair and transparent nominations," Irungu said. However, Macharia insisted he is still the chairman noting the process to remove him had failed.


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State of IEBC Preparedness to Conduct Credible Elections

The National Super Alliance remains committed to co-operation with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to ensure that the institution delivers on its stipulated mandate. We want to be clear on this from the start.

NASA continues to appreciate the Commission’s availability and expression of readiness to address our concerns regarding the elections scheduled for August this year.

We however remain deeply concerned that the Commission remains silent about critical issues we have raised with it in recent weeks regarding its preparedness to conduct free, fair and credible elections in five months’ time.

That is the subject of our briefing today. We will outline the train of events and concerns.
On 20th February 2017, we wrote a letter to the IEBC detailing our concerns about its readiness to conduct free, fair and credible elections. This letter was circulated to and published in sections of the media. Yesterday, the IEBC dispatched a 13-page response to us in which it evaded everything we had raised and contradicted itself and all evidence in public domain where it attempted to address the issues. The following are among the issues we have raised with the IEBC:

The use of an integrated electronic electoral system is now a core element of our electoral system following the enactment of the Election Laws (Amendment) Act 2016. Section 44(4) of the Elections Act provides that:-“The Commission shall, in an open and transparent manner:-
Ø procure and put in place the technology necessary for the conduct of a general election AT LEAST EIGHT MONTHS BEFORE SUCH ELECTION, and
Ø test, verify and deploy such technology AT LEAST SIXTY DAYS BEFORE A GENERAL ELECTION.”

We raised the concern that as we speak, tender No. IEBC/32/2016-2017 – for the supply, delivery, installation, testing, commissioning and support of the Kenya Integrated Election Management Systems (KEMS) has not been awarded. Two major components of this system, namely the electronic voter identification and the electronic transmission of results equipment and devices are not in place. The biometric voter registration kits are not available in sufficient numbers. The systems have not been integrated and with just five months to go, IEBC has not procured, let alone put in place, the technology necessary for the conduct of the general elections on 8th August 2017. How does IEBC intend to make up for these lapses?

Here, we based our concerns on Section 44(5) of the Elections Act which emphasizes transparency, accountability and the security of technology in use. The Commission is required to carry the political parties and stakeholders on board with regard to:-
• Testing and certification of the entire electoral system;
• Mechanisms for the conduct of a system audit;
• Data storage and information security;
• Data retention and disposal;
• Access to electoral system software and source codes;
• Capacity building of staff of the Commission and relevant stakeholders on the use of technology and the electoral process;
• Telecommunication networks for voter identification and result transmission;
• Development, publication and implementation of a disaster recovery and operations continuity plan; and
• The establishment and operations of the technical committee.

The activities of the Commission in this area remain shrouded in secrecy and opacity, contrary to the provisions of the law. We sought to know why that is the case.

The Report of the Independent Review Commission on the General Elections held in Kenya on 27th December, 2007 (Kriegler Report) noted that “there were serious defects in the voter register which impaired the integrity of the 2007 elections even before polling started.”

We pointed out that Section 8A (3) of the Elections Act compels the Commission to engage a professional reputable firm to conduct an audit of the Register of Voters for the purpose of:-

(a) Verifying the accuracy of the Register;
(b) Recommending mechanisms of enhancing the accuracy of the Register; and
(c) Updating the register.”

As things stand today, IEBC has not made any attempts to get accurate and comprehensive information contained in the national population register for the purposes of an audit of the voter register. It would appear nothing has changed since the Kreigler Report.

With a contaminated and polluted register which has not been subjected to statutory audit, the 2017 elections stand legally compromised even before they are held. We sought to know why the Commission seems determined to ignore both the Constitution of Kenya 2010 and new legislation with regard to addressing the serious anomalies in the register.

Here, we have demanded answers to the following matters and aspects.

a) Proof of the software licenses in use at the Commission and the validity period. We have information that licenses for the software being used by the Commission have not been renewed hence invalid.
b) The identity of the vendor.
c) Disclosure of existing contracts with the original equipment manufacturers to ascertain the status of the servers.
d) Number of servers that are operational and the contractors supporting and maintaining the equipment.
e) Exhibit the applications and database each server is utilizing and an explanation of the function of each application and the imperative for the audit of each server and application.
f) What mechanism of data security protection and internet protection against hacking are being implemented to determine any external interfaces connected to IEBC, or internal threats to electoral data and the identity of the users and their permissions?
g) We need to audit any connections to external internet interfaces and show what is connected from external operators such as DNS servers and the SMS staging servers that are used for verification of registration. We also need to be told what other bodies are connected to these infrastructure for purposes of transferring data as well as importing data to and from other agencies such as NIS, Jubilee Party, National Registration Bureau, the Immigration Department and other Third Parties.
h) The role of technology company Morpho if any, at the Commission.
i) Who is overseeing data testing and debugging of any process that may have been implemented.
j) What are the skills set of the persons operating the database together with their qualifications and identity? An audit of the database will show the identity of the persons who changed the entries.
k) How is the data from the BVR kits moved to the main database? Who is responsible for consolidation? Veracity of the ability of the NIS to access data with a parallel system of managing electoral results.
l) How are data security and data mining tools handled internally at IEBC and can a documented process and checklists be provided. Evidence of any such tools?
m) What data is lying in the equipment that is not operational and what applications were running on them?

NASA has demonstrated to IEBC how the project of the registration of cohorts by NYS has mutated into a fraudulent and parallel exercise of registration of voters. We gave list of names that found their way into the Register of Voters through the questionable NYS project. We have confirmed that the persons involved have no knowledge of being registered as voters and some of them have made the discovery that they have been registered when seeking to register as voters.

Here, the IEBC has responded with a plain lie…that there is no connection between the mass voter registration and the NYS registration. We tabled the evidence and IEBC has not told us how the thousands of young people who registered with NYS found themselves in IEBC registers.

We wish to make it clear that ours is not an attempt to condemn the IEBC. We are sounding a wake-up call to IEBC and the nation. We are asking IEBC whether it sincerely believes that it is ready to conduct free, fair and credible polls? We are asking IEBC to be open and transparent with Kenyans so we can jointly seek and find solutions. We are alerting the IEBC to the reality that the task ahead is not just a matter of elections but a serious case of national security. We stand ready to work with IEBC in search for solutions.



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Governors Face Lifestyle Audit Ahead of Election

The Ethics and Anti-Corruption Commission (EACC) will carry out a lifestyle audit on governors, Members of County Assembly (MCAs) and county officials ahead of the General Election as investigations reveal that billions of shillings allocated to the devolved units are ending up in the pockets of individuals.

On Thursday, EACC officials told the Nation they have unearthed hundreds of get-rich-quick schemes among governors, MCAs and county officials who used to live modestly but are now living in opulence.

"We have not had so much corruption being perpetrated like now in the history of this nation. Those in public office and don't want to grab are considered unwise," Michael Mubea, the deputy secretary at the EACC, said.

The audit targets officials with top-of-the-range vehicles, multi-million shilling homes, business ventures and are regularly on expensive overseas trips, while their voters can hardly afford three meals a day.

However, efforts by the anti-corruption agency to investigate the rampant corruption being carried out in county governments continues to face resistance from governors.

On Thursday, supporters of Isiolo Governor Godana Doyo attacked and injured anti-corruption detectives as they searched for documents at the county's Treasury in investigations into a Sh271 million payout for a road construction project that had not been carried out.



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Lesotho set for elections following no-confidence vote against PM Mosisili.

Lesotho’s Prime Minister lost a no-confidence vote in parliament on Wednesday, deepening political uncertainty in the southern Africa kingdom.
Prime Minister Pakalitha Mosisili of the Democratic Congress (DC) has headed a coalition government since the ouster of former Prime Minister Thomas Thabane’s All Basotho Congress (ABC) two years ago, following a snap election that was called in an effort to end Lesotho’s power struggles.
The law makers voted in favour of replacing Mosisili with Monyane Moleleki whose Alliance of Democrats party split from the Democratic Congress last year.
According to media reports, the prime minister has three days to either resign in favour of Moleleki or advise His Majesty King Letsie III, to call snap elections which would be held within three months.
But according Mosisili’s political adviser Fako Lokoti, the premier would not step aside.
He told a local radio station, “He will continue to be prime minister until we go for elections.”
Lesotho’s big brother South Africa and the Southern African Development Community (SADC) bloc have repeatedly called for peaceful political reforms in the country.
The last two elections have not produced a winner with clear majority.
The land-locked southern Africa nation of two million people is among the world’s poorest and has been hit by several coups since independence in 1966.
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Wednesday, March 1, 2017

EU worried about monetization of elections in #Ghana

The European Union (EU) Election Observer Mission (EOM) to Ghana’s December 2016 general election has cautioned the country against monetization of its political process on Monday.

While the elections were competitive and campaign freedoms respected, the EOM urged that mechanisms be found to address the increasing monetization of the campaign, a lack of transparency in campaign financing the misuse of state resources and overt bias in state-owned media.
“An effective sanctioning mechanism against the misuse of such resources should be established and the EC’s capacity to enforce provisions of the law on political and campaign financing should be enhanced. Further improving accuracy of the voter register would also be helpful,” the EOM said in its final report on the December 2016 elections in Ghana.
Elections day queue at the early hours of December 7, 2016
In the report released on Monday, the mission however expressed satisfaction that the West African country had gone through a third successful transition of power from one ruling party to another, adding that this was a testament to the credibility of the country’s electoral process and a credit to its political leaders and its people.