Bloomberg News

Kenya Court Seeks Criminal Probe Into Vote Equipment Procurement

April 16, 2013

Kenya’s Supreme Court recommended a criminal investigation into the procurement of equipment that failed during last month’s election even as it said there was no serious evidence of irregularities in the voting process.

The six-judge bench on March 30 upheld Uhuru Kenyatta’s election as president, rejecting a challenge to the outcome by defeated candidate Raila Odinga, the former prime minister. The top court released its full judgment today.

“The evidence, in our opinion, does not disclose any profound irregularities in the management of the electoral process,” according to the statement e-mailed from the capital, Nairobi. There’s no indication “the candidate declared as the President-elect had not obtained the basic vote threshold justifying his being declared as such.”

Kenyatta, the 51-year-old son of Kenya’s first president, Jomo Kenyatta, won the the March 4 election with 50.07 percent of votes cast, narrowly clinching the absolute majority required to avoid a second round against the runner-up, Odinga.

A series of technical faults led to delays in the voting tally, with the outcome announced on March 9. Machines used to identify voters by fingerprint failed in many polling stations on election day. A new electronic transmission system to relay provisional results broke down, forcing electoral authorities to switch to manually counting votes.

Election Squabbles

The technical faults may have been caused by a flawed procurement process for the equipment amid “squabbles and misunderstandings” between officials at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, according to the court.

The disagreements led to the “failure to assess the integrity of the technologies in good time,” according to the ruling. “It is, indeed, likely that the acquisition process was marked by competing interests involving impropriety or even criminality.” Kenyan authorities should carry out an investigation and file charges if necessary, it said.

The presidential election was completed in accordance with the law despite the technical setbacks and curbs on political party agents at the national tallying center, the court said.

“The voter registration process was, on the whole, transparent, accurate and verifiable,” the judges said. “The voter register compiled from this process did serve to facilitate the conduct of free, fair and transparent elections.”

It was the first presidential election since 2007, when allegations of vote-rigging by then-opposition leader Odinga sparked two months of ethnic clashes that killed more than 1,100 people and cut economic growth to 1.5 percent in 2008 from 7 percent the year before.

The shilling and the stock market have rallied after the peaceful passage of this year’s vote. The currency since March 4 has climbed 1.4 percent against the dollar to 83.75 by 1:06 p.m. in Nairobi, heading for the strongest in eight months, while the Nairobi All-Share Index (NSEASI) rose 13 percent by yesterday.

To contact the reporter on this story: Sarah McGregor in Nairobi at smcgregor5@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Nasreen Seria at nseria@bloomberg.net


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