Kenyan Election Body Denies Awarding Deal to Blocked Company

  • Dubai-based Al Ghurair has no information on award of contract
  • Electoral body fired director over failure to secure ballots

Kenya’s electoral commission said it’s yet to decide which company will print ballot papers for elections being held in two months, after a local newspaper said the deal had been handed to a Dubai-based firm whose contract has been blocked twice.

“We are still working on it,” Andrew Limo, spokesman for the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission, said by phone on Wednesday from the capital, Nairobi. “Communication will be made as soon as a decision has been taken.”

The Nairobi-based Star reported earlier that the 2.5 billion-shilling ($24 million) contract had been handed to Al-Ghurair Printing & Publishing Ltd., even after two previous attempts to award the deal to the company was halted by Kenya’s High Court and the Public Procurement Administrative Review Board, citing irregularities.

The IEBC is struggling to secure 130 million papers for elections on Aug. 8 as the dismissal of two key officials in the space of a week raises questions about the body’s ability to conduct a credible vote. Elections in East Africa’s biggest economy are fractious times for investors because a disputed vote in 2007 triggered two months of violence that left 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 more to flee their homes.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is seeking a second, five-year term at the election, in which his main challenger will be opposition leader and former Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Officials Removed

On Tuesday, the commission said it had dismissed its head of procurement for failing to secure a contract for the supply of ballot papers. The removal of the official came after the IEBC its director of information and technology on 30 days compulsory leave after he “failed to cooperate in the provision of information requested from the department.”

The IEBC said on Tuesday it’s “addressing the issue of the procurement of ballot material with utmost urgency.”

Abdul Kayum, an assistant customer services manager at Al Ghurair, said he had “no news” about the contract and that he may have further information on Thursday. The company has printed ballot papers for Kenyan by-elections since 2013, he said.

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