Governors tell Uhuru not to assent to electoral laws amendments

Governors have faulted the National Assembly for amending the Election Laws (Amendment) Act, 2015 to reinstate the manual voter identification and transmission of election results.

Through their Council of Governors chairman, Peter Munya, the governors say that the Members of Parliament allied to the Jubilee Party acted unilaterally to amend the law through a vote boycotted by their opposition counterparts.

The Jubilee MPs cited technological errors and network coverage in some parts of the country as some of the factors that informed the amendments.

On Tuesday, while appearing on Citizen TV for an interview, Deputy President William Ruto said that the amendments were a request from the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body mandated to implement the electoral laws.

However, the opposition Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD) leader, Raila Odinga, on Wednesday, told Citizen TV that the amendments were a ploy by Jubilee to rig the August 8, 2017 polls.

While acknowledging that technology and manual systems are prone to errors, Odinga defended the opposition’s call for a total technology-based election saying that other countries have done so and that it reduces the margin of error.

The governors say that the electoral laws can only be amended through a negotiated process, echoing sentiments made by the opposition.

“The Elections Act could only be amended following the same route of consulting all stakeholders in Kenya,” read the statement by Munya in part, who argued that this was the only way to a free and fair election.

“The importance of having a free, fair and just electoral process is key to peace in the country.”

They have called on President Uhuru Kenyatta not to assent to the amendments and give dialogue a chance.

“The Council urges President Uhuru Kenyatta not to append his signature to the proposed amendments and give dialogue a chance.”

“The Council of Governors in the meantime is making effort to meet both the President and the opposition to avert any action that will precipitate violence.”

The governors, however, say that they encourage the use of technology in the elections.

“While we do not aspire to take sides, as has always been with the Council (since we are a bipartisan institution and a neutral force in matters governance), we would encourage the use of technology in the Electoral process,” said the governors.

“We are in the Technology era, let us not roll back these critical gains made in the first phase of devolved governments. Just like in the other aspects of life and governance, we believe that technology can also be duly applied in the next General Election.”