Kenya scraps biometric voter registration

Kenya's electoral commission has abandoned plans to introduce biometric voter registration after the tendering process became tainted by alleged vested interests.

The scrapping of an electronic register – supposedly more difficult to rig – has given rise to concerns among politicians that the country's upcoming general election next year could be marred by fraud, just as in the last election in 2007. Following that controversial poll, which led to ethnic violence that killed at least 1,200 people and displaced hundreds of thousands from their home, votes of unregistered and even dead people were discovered in ballot boxes.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had planned to replace the current manual system by registering 18 million voters electronically. It will now update its existing manual register which contains the details of some 12.4 million voters.

The electoral body had initially refused to award the contract to the lowest bidder, awarding it instead to the second-lowest bidder. A public row ensued, forcing IEBC to abandon its plans.

Two parliamentary committees have been designated to investigate the controversy.