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Court cancels printing of presidential ballots

The High Court has cancelled printing of the presidential ballot papers for the August 8 poll by the Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company.

The three-judge bench of Justices Joel Ngugi, George Odunga and John Mativo on Friday directed the Wafula Chebukati-led Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) to tender afresh for the printing of the ballots.

They, however, declined to cancel the printing of the other ballots for the Member of County Assembly, Member of the National Assembly, senator and governor slots because there was no dispute concerning them.

In their ruling, the judges said the commission had failed to ensure public participation in awarding the tender to Al Ghurair as required by the law.

“It is necessary to ensure that election systems are free, fair and transparent. The systems should be secure and results announced promptly.

Appropriate structures should be put in place to avoid electoral malpractice,” they ruled. The judges also rejected an application by IEBC lawyers led by Fred Ngatia for a stay of execution pending appeal on Monday saying those aggrieved by the ruling can seek redress in the Court of Appeal.

They argued that it is not impossible for IEBC to start the process again in order to conduct free, fair and credible election.

The judges, however, dismissed claims by the opposition National Super Alliance (Nasa) that the firm met President Uhuru Kenyatta and could thus have influenced the award of the tender.

“We have not seen any evidence that there was a meeting between the President and the officials of Al-Ghurair, newspapers cuttings are insufficient to be used as evidence in a matter and therefore the allegations by Nasa that there was a meeting between president and Al-Ghurair is below threshold,” they said.

Nasa had accused the Dubai firm of not being fit or qualified for the vital task of printing election materials. It claimed that the decision by IEBC to award the tender to company was predetermined, in bad faith and in contravention of the constitutional precept of transparency and accountability.

In response, IEBC said it considered the firm’s capacity to deliver, track record in printing ballot papers and reputation in terms of handling sensitive materials.

IEBC argued that the decision to award the contract to Al Ghurair was based on the serious time constraints it faced and after considering its technical capacity and past performance.

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