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Election preparations gather steam in Kenya
June 22, 2017, 1:22 pm

As preparations for the high-stakes Kenyan presidential elections slated for 8 August gathers pace, media houses in the country have released guidelines for the 2017 presidential debates. In order to avoid a crowded debate with all presidential contestants, only candidates who garner five percent of support in two reputed national opinion polls are to be included in the main debate. This cut off would ensure only candidates likely to win are able to explain their manifestos and be questioned by Kenyans. The two television and radio debates are scheduled for 10 July and 24 July.

Incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, and his main challenger, Raila Odinga, are definitely in the presidential debate. A third possible contestant is former High-School teacher, Mohamed Abduba Dida, who was the only other candidate to go past five percent in an opinion poll released by Ipsos on 30 May. 

In the meantime, the decision by Kenya’s electoral agency, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), to award the contract for printing ballot papers to a firm in Dubai has come in for questioning by the opposition.

Last week, the IEBC awarded Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing Company in Dubai a US$24.2 million tender to print ballot papers. According to IEBC Chairperson, the firm had been given the contract as local printers were unable to deliver ballot papers as necessitated by the strict election timelines.

Kenya’s opposition coalition challenges this assessment and alleges that several IEBC officials been found to have compromised the procurement process for election materials.

Meanwhile, the IEBC announced that it will temporarily employ around 360,000 Kenyans to handle the 45,516 polling stations spread across the country. The list of electoral officials includes more than 260,000 polling clerks and nearly 100,000 presiding and deputy presiding officers. Also being sought are 337 logistics officers, 290 deputy returning officers for Kenya's 290 constituencies, as well as over 5,000 electoral trainers, 580 IT staff, and 2,900 ward-based educators, two for each of the country's 1,450 wards.


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