US Ambassador to Kenya Robert F. Godec. Foreign donors have denied claims they are out to influence the outcome of 2017 polls. FILE PHOTO
BY NAMULONGO PETER,NAIROBI,20TH DEC,2016-The United States Government has defended its involvement in electoral activities in Kenya saying such activities are legal .
US Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec in a statement says the programs undertaken by the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES) are legal because the firm is fully registered under the Companies Act, contrary to claims by the NGOs Coordination Board which advised the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK) to freeze its accounts.
“IFES is registered in Kenya under the Companies Act and has legal standing to conduct programs here,” Godec said in a statement, and went on to explain that “USAID provides elections assistance under our Development Assistance Grant Agreement with the Government of Kenya, which allows for the issuance of work permits for implementing partner staff, including IFES.”
According to Godec, the Kenya Electoral Assistance Program (KEAP) is being implemented following a request by the Kenyan Government and the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) and it adheres strictly to Kenyan law and regulations, and is provided under careful oversight by the Government of Kenya, IEBC, and USAID.
“We do this important work transparently without favoring any party or candidate,” Godec said.
The action by the NGOs Coordination Board followed remarks by President Uhuru Kenyatta at the Jamhuri Day celebrations when he warned that there was “money coming into Kenya from abroad in the guise of supporting good governance or civic education. However, its true intention is to influence our electoral choices.”
Godec said “We do this important work transparently without favoring any party or candidate.”
The ambassador said they are “disappointed by the attempt to discredit the United States’ efforts to assist Kenyans in the conduct of free, fair, peaceful, and credible elections in 2017.”
NGOs Cordination Board Executive Director Fazul Mahamed on Monday wrote to IFES, directing it to cease operations, while accusing it of operating illegally in Kenya with the support of USAID which has pumped in Sh2 billion for civic education programmes ahead of next year’s elections.
“The purpose of this communication therefore is to direct the International Foundation for Electoral Systems, IFES Kenya office to immediately cease all operations in the country including the implementation of the Kenya Electoral Assistance Program, KEAP 2017 that has been funded by USAID,” Mahamed said., a week after President Kenyatta warned that foreign powers were interfering with the country’s electoral process though programmes disguised as civic education.
In the letter, Mahamed accused USAID of engaging the American NGO that is not registered in Kenya as is required by law. All its staff were also said to be working in the country illegally because none of them had working permits.
Upesi News can however not confirm if IFES is indeed registered with the Registrar of Companies at Sheria House.