The United States has urged the Government of Kenya to ensure that this year’s elections are free and fair.
US Secretary of State Antony Blinken has also assured Kenya that his country will work with all institutions involved in achieving this and in the pursuit of democracy.
He also commended the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission-IEBC for facilitating the process of approving candidates for various leadership positions as well as the entire campaign process in a smooth, open and transparent manner.
Referring to his statement last month when he met with Kenyan Foreign Minister Raychele Omamo, Blinken emphasized the Kenyan-US partnership aimed at maintaining peace in the country.
His remarks come just days after UDA party presidential flag bearer William Ruto made hair raising claims of a sinister plan to facilitate vote rigging against him. Ruto claimed that close to 1 million voters had been moved from one polling station to another with most of the people affected being residents of areas he believes to be his stronghold.
However, later IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati dismissed the allegations, saying all voter data was secure. It should be noted that on May 25, IEBC Chief Executive Officer Marjan Hussein Marjan wrote to IEBC staff warning them against doing anything that would be construed to be a vote rigging plan.
Raila Odinga, the flag bearer for the Azimio la Umoja One Kenya Coalition Party also asked IEBC to ensure free and fair elections. Raila listed 10 key issues that he wanted IEBC to adress including an explanation on how it had taken care of issues raised in the 2017 Supreme Court Case in which the Presidential election was annulled. Raila also wanted an assurance that all the electronic systems that will be deployed have been tested and are working properly.
The Azimio candidate was also keen on how IEBC was going to come up with 10000 new polling stations as is required by law to take care of newly registered voters. In one of the laws guiding Kenyan elections, a polling station should not have more than 700 registered voters which means the number of polling stations is likely to rise from the 42000 polling stations in 2017 to 52000 polling stations in 2022.
In its latest update, IEBC has given a preliminary report of the voter register audit revealing close to 800,000 erroneous voters including those who have been deceased. IEBC has promised to give a full report of the audit done by KPMG before the end of June.