Kenya Opposition Links President's Family to Ballot Contract

  • President’s brother may be linked to Dubai-based company
  • Kenyatta accused of colluding with electoral body on tender

Uhuru Kenyatta

Photographer: Simon Maina/AFP via Getty Images

Kenya’s main opposition party linked President Uhuru Kenyatta’s family to a Dubai-based company awarded a tender to print ballot papers for this year’s elections, as it demanded the contract be canceled.

Kenyatta’s brother, Muhoho, “is the local contact for Al Ghurair and possibly a shareholder” in Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing Ltd., Musalia Mudavadi, a leader of the opposition National Super Alliance, told reporters on Wednesday in the capital, Nairobi. He also accused the president of influencing the award of the tender “in collusion with some technical staff” at Kenya’s electoral body.

Muhoho Kenyatta wasn’t available when Bloomberg contacted his office seeking comment and he didn’t immediately respond to a request to call back. Abdul Kayum, a customer services manager at Al Ghurair, didn’t answer his phone when called by Bloomberg. Calls to the president’s spokesman, Manoah Esipisu, didn’t connect when Bloomberg sought comment.

Opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga warned this week that the award of the contract to Al Ghurair risks compromising the election that’s scheduled for Aug. 8. Kenya has faced questions about the credibility of its past two votes, with a dispute over the outcome of a presidential election in December 2007 triggering two months of ethnic violence that left at least 1,100 people dead.

The Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission last week re-awarded the 2.5 billion-shilling ($24 million) tender to Al Ghurair even after Kenya’s High Court canceled a previous contract with the company in February and a procurement-review board last month criticized the tendering process. The commission said earlier on Wednesday it will proceed with the contract awarded to Al Ghurair because there’s insufficient time to find an alternative company to print the ballots, an assertion that Mudavadi disputed.

“The country has in the past always conducted nominations three weeks to voting day and this has always been sufficient time for printing of ballot papers to be completed,” Mudavadi said.

Opposition leaders will meet with IEBC officials on Thursday to discuss their objections and the alliance will decide on the way forward after that, he said. NASA, as the main opposition coalition is known, will hold a briefing at 10 a.m. on Thursday about the issue, it said in an emailed statement.

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