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Economy

IEBC yet to contract French IT firm for repeat Oct 17 polls

IEBC officers arrange voting materials at Kisumu Central constituency tallying centre on August 7, 2017 shortly before distribution. FILE PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG
IEBC officers arrange voting materials at Kisumu Central constituency tallying centre on August 7, 2017 shortly before distribution. FILE PHOTO | TONNY OMONDI | NMG 

French digital security firm OT-Morpho says it has no contract with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), raising logistical questions over plans to hold repeat presidential polls in 25 days.

The firm whose equipment was used in the August 8 polls said the IEBC has neither given it scope of new work nor asked it to quote price for repeat presidential election tentatively scheduled for October 17.

The firm provided two electronic systems that identified voters and transmitted election results in the August 8 poll.

Voters are expected to return to the polls before the end of October after the Supreme Court annulled the declaration of President Uhuru Kenyatta as the victor in the August 8 presidential election.

“We don’t have contract with them (IEBC) for the next election yet,” OT-Morpho’s chief operating officer Fredric Beylier said in an interview with the BBC’s Focus on Africa.

“If we had the contract by now – and assuming that the Supreme Court does not recommend any technical change in its ruling — we’d need up to the end of October to reconfigure our systems for the repeat elections,” said Mr Beylier.

Key staff changes

The IEBC had earlier gazetted the October 17 date for presidential poll rerun despite protest from Nasa which has asked the agency to drop OT-Morpho and change its key staff. 

On Wednesday, the IEBC postponed a crucial meeting to discuss the date for the repeat elections with President Kenyatta and Nasa candidate Raila Odinga to await full judgment of the Supreme Court. 

Mr Odinga has said he will only participate in election after the French firm is replaced together with top 11 IEBC officials.

Mr Odinga has also urged the French government to investigate the Paris-based firm and its relations with electoral officials who may have undermined the election.

Judge Philomena Mwilu of the Supreme Court Wednesday censured the IEBC’s refusal to comply with court orders to open its computer servers, saying it meant that opposition claims of hacking or manipulation could be true.

Dismissed claims

During the interview with the BBC, OT Morpho dismissed claims that it presided over computer-aided election rigging that secured Mr Kenyatta victory.

The firm said no algorithm was introduced into its systems, adding that presidential election outcome did not maintain a linear gap between Mr Kenyatta and Mr Odinga.

“We have conducted two audits which both confirmed no piracy or intrusion into our systems during the August 8 polls. No suspicious activity or hacking has been identified,” Mr Beylier said adding the firm’s staff have been unfairly targeted for attack.

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