The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has been dealt a huge blow following a ruling ordering it to cancel the printing of presidential ballot papers and issue a fresh tender just a month before Kenyans go to the polls.
A three-judge bench on Friday, July 7, nullified the tender that was controversially awarded to the Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair, saying IEBC failed to follow electoral laws.
In the ruling which many say is a victory to the National Super Alliance (NASA), the court directed the commission to identify a new supplier to print ballots for the presidential race.
IEBC’s lawyer Kamau Karori however said the agency is not in a position to commence fresh tendering due to cost implication, adding that they will seek an appeal against the ruling.
Another lawyer, Waweru Gatonye, who represents the interested party, backed Karori’s application and reckons the court should suspend the immediate implementation of its order awaiting appeal.
Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing, the Dubai-based firm in questions, was awarded a direct tender to print ballots for the August 8 General Election, and said it has already printed 80 percent of those to be used in the Governor races.
It added that 25 per cent of those for Woman Rep positions have also been printed according to a statement by its lawyers on Tuesday, July 7, who spoke at the beginning of the hearings.
Defense lawyers noted that the commission has received approvals to print ballot papers for Governor, Senator, and Women Reps and is awaiting the approval for others.
“It is worth noting that 80 per cent of the Governor ballots and 25 per cent of the woman representative [post] were completed by the time of swearing this affidavit,” they told the court before the three judges ruled on the Nasa petition.
The lawyers added that the electoral agency has already committed a huge amount of resources into the procurement of ballot papers and other raw materials which typically makes 85 per cent of the cost that go into production.
The Opposition had linked the Dubai firm to President Uhuru Kenyatta saying together with IEBC, were colluding to print an extra 2 million president ballots so as to give the incumbent an edge.
The firm was to print about 130 million ballot papers for the forthcoming polls.
The court however disagreed with Nasa that President Kenyatta has links with the Al Ghurair family and refused to stop IEBC from dealing with the firm in the future. Pundits say the poll body can still award the firm the tender, but only if it follows procurement procedures.