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Al shabaab can interefere with electronic voting system, CS Mucheru says

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Dec. 29, 2016, 9:00 am
By NANCY AGUTU, @nancyagutu
ICT CS Joe Mucheru. /FILE
ICT Cabinet Secretary Joe Mucheru on Thursday based the state's push for alternative manual voting system on fears of al Shabaab interference with the 2017 poll.
Mucheru, while appearing before the senate committee on legal affairs chaired by Amos Wako (Busia), defended the government's plan to amend election laws.
"We are at war with al Shabaab who are known to interfere with communication systems . The Ministry fully recommends manual back up system," he said.
He said that the option of manual system was viable not only because of terrorism but also for reasons related to challenge in the country's telecommunication infrastructure.
Mucheru said technology has failed even in the best of countries, adding that network failure and hacking can actually happen.
The CS said Kenyans will not wait for two days for the systems to be brought back in the event that the same collapses during the August 8 vote.
"I support full electronic process in future but we also need a back-up. We need an optional system," he said.
Mucheru said technology will not be used to violate the rights of other Kenyans.
"Cartels are trying to use technology to frustrate Kenyans. We have realized early enough and the same technology will be used to control all that," he said.
He said during voter register verification, voters will present themselves physically, adding that "this will guarantee a clean register."
"We'll ensure we have better systems that work faster, create transparency and are cheaper," he said.
But Mombasa senator Hassan Omar refuted Mucheru's al Shabaab claims saying, "it is a mediocre reasoning which is dangerous at this time".
Mucheru was before the committee to explain why Kenya must have manual back up in the next general elections.
This comes days after the National Assembly passed election laws that would allow a manual back up during the elections.
The changes, which significantly alter the Elections Laws (Amendments) Act 2016, have been opposed by Cord leaders and members of the opposition.
But Jubilee has said the manual voting system should be in place just in case technology fails.
The contentious election law arose from a negotiated agreement reached between Cord and Jubilee, that ended the anti-IEBC protests.
A Joint Select Committee on the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, led by Senators James Orengo (Siaya) and Kiraitu Murungi (Meru), midwifed the law.

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