News Headlines December 29 2016

Why Cord might call off next week’s planned demo

Next week’s planned protest by the opposition against contentious amendments to the elections law might be indefinitely called off.

Opposition leaders Raila Odinga, Kalonzo Musyoka and Moses Wetangula last week announced that they would stage a nationwide mass demonstration on January 4, 2017 to protest the amendments which they claim could provide leeway for rigging in the forth-coming August general election.

“We want Kenyans to support this move. It is time to liberate and people should come out in large numbers to finally liberate Kenya,” they said during a press conference at Capitol Hill in Nairobi.

But there could be a change of heart after senators agreed to have fresh talks over the contentious amendments.

Read also: New poll says majority supporters still want Raila to run for President in 2017

In a special sitting yesterday, senators agreed to shelve debate on the amendments until relevant public views have been taken into account, raising hopes for a compromise on an issue that had threatened to ignite chaos in the country.

The move is seen as an attempt to avert the planned protests and also give room for dialogue as solutions are sought.

Already, CORD supremo Raila Odinga has signaled the opposition leaders’ readiness to call off the demos with the former prime Minister saying they will take a position on the planned mass action after receiving full details of the latest’s developments from the senate.

Read also: Al-Shabaab might hack 2017 election transmission system, CS claims

Calling off the mass protest could come as a big relief for many especially after businessmen and property owners expressed fears that they could suffer loses as a result of demonstrations.

Most protests in the country have been characterized by ugly scenes, often resulting in death as anti-protest police clash with protesters like happened in June during the anti-IEBC demos.

New amendments threat to Success of 2017 polls, LSK warns

The Law Society of Kenya (LSK) has said the lack of clarity on the complementary voter identification and results transmission system to be used should technology fail as proposed for in the Election Laws (Amendment) Bill threatens the success of next year’s polls.

While making submissions before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal Affairs and Human Rights, LSK President Isaac Okero faulted the amendments passed by the National Assembly as having fallen short of the clarity required for election laws.

According to LSK, the introduction of Section 44A in amendments passed by the National Assembly which proposes a : “complimentary mechanism for identification of voters and transmission of election results (by the commission) that is simple, accurate, verifiable, secure, accountable and transparent,” creates an atmosphere of mistrust since the term “complimentary” has not been defined in the proposed amendment.

“This provision purports to introduce an undefined mechanism other than the integrated electronic electoral system stipulated by Section 44 of the Act to run concurrently with said system with discretion left as to what this mechanism is and when it is to be deployed,” said Okero.

According to Okero, lack of consensus by Members of Parliament as witnessed when the amendments were presented before the National Assembly for consideration last week, was evidence to the level of mistrust that needed to be addressed before the Senate considers amending the law.

“Given our history and the circumstances in which the Bill was passed by the National Assembly, this ambiguity sets the stage for suspicion to arise over the use of a parallel system for voter registration, identification and transmission of election results,” he asserted.

Members of the committee however questioned the stand by LSK which they described as one-sided asking why the society would not give an alternative to provide clarity ion the issues it claimed were ambiguous instead of what appeared to be as a blanket condemnation of the entire amendments.

“As an institution, LSK should be neutral. But when I look at your presentation, you appear to be taking sides on this matter,” said Nominated Senator Fatuma Dullo in sentiments echoed by Murang’a Senator Kembi Gitura.

“We would have liked you to give a neutral position on this matter because you are not politicians and therefore help this country get a solution.”

Acknowledging that the electronic voter identification system could encounter hitches during its use, Okero insisted that an electronic backup system was ideal to avert a crisis during polls.

“Ideally, electronic systems need to have electronic backup. These systems are designed to be backed up electronically,” Okero responded.

The LSK promised to give more comprehensive answers on issues raised by members of the committee upon consultations on January 3, with a view to provide alternatives to the current proposals.

Al-Shabaab might hack 2017 election transmission system, CS claims

ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru has sensationally claimed that the electronic voter transmission system to be employed the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in next year’s general election is likely to be hacked by the al-Shabaab terror group.

Mr Mucheru who was giving his submissions before the senate’s special committee on election laws Amendment Bill said there is need for a manual back up system for the August 8, polls.

He said the country must adopt the handbook system to avoid any interruption from external forces which may not be limited to the militia group.

“We are at war with al-Shabaab, known to bring down technology. The Ministry fully recommends manual back up system,” said Mucheru.

But his claims were immediately refuted by Mombasa senator Hassan Omar who termed it ‘mediocre’ and ‘dangerous at this time’.

The CS however defended the government push to have alternative manual voting system basing his fears on possible al-Shabaab interference with the 2017 poll results.

“I support full electronic process in future but we also need a back-up. We need an optional system,” he added.

He said the option of a manual system is viable not only because of terrorism but also for reasons related to challenge in the country’s telecommunication infrastructure.

Mucheru disclosed to the committee chaired by Senator Amos Wako (Busia, ODM) that technology has failed even in the best of countries, adding that network failure and hacking can actually happen.

He gave examples of Ghana, Gambia and the just concluded US elections.

The CS said Kenyans will not have any reason to wait for two days for the systems to be brought back in the event of its failure during next year’s polls.

He said only 75 % of the country is covered by 3G network leaving out other parts of the country,

 

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