Kenyan election body may appeal in ballot printing dispute

 Reuters International

By Duncan Miriri

NAIROBI (Reuters) - Kenya's electoral commission said on Tuesday it may appeal against a judge's ruling that cancelled its contract with a Dubai-based firm to print the ballots for August's local, parliamentary and presidential elections.

Monday's ruling came after the latest in a series of opposition challenges over the running of the votes, in a country with a history of disputed elections. But a commission spokesman said it should not delay this year's contest.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had awarded the 2.5 billion shillings (£19.3 million) tender to Dubai-based firm Al Ghurair last year. But a high court judge cancelled it, saying it did not follow new election regulations, after it was challenged by the opposition.

"It is certainly a setback but we don't think it is going to hugely affect the election date," said Andrew Limo, a spokesman for the IEBC.

"There is still room to do another procurement if it comes to that, but right now our lawyers and top officials are studying the ruling with a view to appeal."

President Uhuru Kenyatta is running for a second and final five-year term. He is widely expected to face veteran opposition leader Raila Odinga, whom he defeated at the last elections in 2013.

The preparations for the August polls are being keenly scrutinised by the opposition, which disputed the outcome of the previous two elections. The previous electoral board resigned in October after the opposition accused them of corruption.

At least 1,200 people were killed after ethnic violence broke out following the disputed December 2007 election. Odinga challenged the 2013 result but it was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Last week, Kenyan investigators arrested the former chief executive of the electoral commission over allegations that a British printing firm paid nearly 500,000 pounds in bribes to win contracts during previous votes.

(Reporting by Duncan Miriri; editing by Katharine Houreld and Mark Trevelyan)


 Reuters International