The electoral commission is now demanding the immediate release of 3 foreigners arrested at the Jomo Kenyatta International Airport (JKIA), while delivering poll materials for the August election.
The three officials from Smartmatic International B.V were arrested on Thursday on arrival at the airport after failing to explain how they were delivering sensitive election materials contrary to security and government protocol.
“The commission is concerned about this unjustified intimidation, harassment and blackmail whatsoever and demands the immediate release of the three employees of Smartmatic International B.V,” said Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) in a statement to the media Friday morning.
Chebukati said IEBC has a legal contract with Smartmatic International B.V, the firm contracted to supply technology materials for the August 9 election and does not understand why police detained its officials.
Smartmatic International B.V was contracted to supply, deliver, install, test, commission, support and maintain the Kenya Integrated Election Management System (KIEMS) kits which will be deployed in the election.
On Friday, Chebukati said security agencies had declined to release the three officials despite confirmation from IEBC Chief Executive Officer Hussein Marjan that they were delivering the materials to the commission.
“The brazen decision of the security authorities to arrest, detain and confine in a solitary hideout the three personnel without justification is an exhibition of intimidation on hardworking persons who are only keen to deliver a robust technology infrastructure for conduct of a credible, secure and verifiable election,” Chebukati said.
But Police Spokesman Bruno Shioso said that the 3 foreigners were arrested because the commission did not explain why it laid down procedures for transporting sensitive material or cargo were not followed, even though the poll agency is an independent commission.
“The foreigners were arrested because IEBC did not declare the materials and no official from the commission accompanied them,” he said, “We are talking about election materials not any other luggage or cargo.”
The arrest of the officials comes days after reports that there were plans to rig the election, with fingers pointed at the Kenya Kwanza coalition, whose co-principal Moses Wetangula of Ford Kenya was accused of having links with foreigners or a foreign company involved in the supply of election materials.
Wetangula and the Kenya Kwanza coalition of Deputy President William Ruto who one of the leading presidential contenders, however, dismissed the claim as far-fetched and dared anyone with evidence to table it.
The accusation was raised by politicians allied to Azimio La Umoja One Kenya coalition party that is sponsoring Raila Odinga in the August election.