By Kenya Confidential Political Editor, Nairobi, September 16, 2017
We do not intend to become the scapegoat of the political situation in Kenya. We do not accept that the reputation of OT-Morpho and its employees is tainted in any way by these allegations. This has to come to an end.
French digital-security company OT-Morpho has denied its systems used in Kenya’s annulled elections last month were tampered with and said it has handed over all data for analysis by the country’s Supreme Court.
“The system deployed in the delivery of the results employs proven technologies that we’ve used in elections in other countries,” Olivier Charlanes, director for Africa and the Middle East at OT-Morpho, said in an emailed statement.
“The system used in Kenya wasn’t pirated. It wasn’t an attempt to interfere, and we’ve passed on all the logs to be analyzed by experts commissioned by the Supreme Court.” emphasized Charlanes. The firm will take legal action against those tarnishing its reputation.
OT-Morpho stated that an “in-depth audit” of the system showed earlier claims by National Super Alliance (NASA) about hacking were untrue.The firm’s Chief Operations Officer, Frederic Beylier, says that the audit was undertaken with the help of external experts from security software companies.
“We obviously checked if there could have been questionable manipulations by any authorised or unauthorised persons and can confirm there was no manipulation of data that could raise questions,” Beylier stated.
The company stated that it had transmitted all its logs to IEBC and was willing to participate in another external audit under the Commission’s authority. Beylier slammed threats and intimidation against the company and its employees, insisting it had carried out its job in “complete political neutrality”. He raised questions on whether the company’s systems would be used in fresh presidential elections scheduled for October 17th.
During the August elections, OT-Morpho supplied 45,000 tablets used to identify voters biometrically and the Results Transmission and Presentation (RTS) software.
OT-Morpho is anxiously awaiting the written judgment of the Supreme Court’s ruling, which Kenyan Chief Justice David Maraga said will be released within 21 days of its decision. It wants to see the evidence from the Supreme Court ruling showing how its system failed to deliver a credible election.
Supreme Court on September 1 canceled the result of August 8th presidential election, the first such ruling in Africa, and ordered a new ballot to be held within 60 days. The Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has set October 17th as the date for a rerun increasing uncertainty in East Africa’s biggest economy as it clouds the outlook for the country, where growth is already slowing.
The French digital-security company whose equipment was used in the General Election including the presidential one yesterday reiterated that its systems weren’t tampered with to rig the outcome, calling the accusations an attempt to shift blame for a vote the nation’s Supreme Court nullified.
OT-Morpho said an internal audit of its equipment conducted after the Supreme Court annulled the August 8th presidential election found no foul play. The company provided two electronic systems that identified Kenyan voters and transmitted election results from almost 41,000 polling stations to a central tallying center.
“We do not intend to become the scapegoat of the political situation in Kenya,” Chief Operating Officer Frederic Beylier said Friday in a phone interview. “We do not accept that the reputation of OT-Morpho and its employees is tainted in any way by these allegations. This has to come to an end.”
Opposition Orange democratic Movement (ODM) candidate Raila Odinga’s leading National Super Alliance (NASA) has urged the French government to investigate Paris-based Safran SA and its relations with electoral officials who “may have acted in complicity and connived to undermine the will of the people of Kenya.”
Raila to be sued by French firm over false hacking claims
Safran sold its digital-security unit in May to Advent International, owner of Colombes, France-based Oberthur Technologies SA, and the renamed company is called OT-Morpho.
Odinga’s NASA says the system used in the vote violated the country’s electoral laws by “failing to comply with the prescribed format of result management data.” It also said the system provided for the “transmission of text messages that could be manipulated and were not backed by the primary statutory election result declaration forms.”
Raila wrote to the French government last week urging it to investigate Paris-based Safran SA and its relations with electoral officials who it alleged may have “acted in complicity and connived to undermine the will of the people of Kenya.”
He said the company’s system violated Kenya’s electoral laws by “failing to comply with the prescribed format of result management data.” His coalition has said its participation in the rerun depends on authorities meeting conditions including replacing personnel at the election commission.
Beylier maintains, “We’ve conducted two in-depth audits of our system with the support of external and reputable companies. We refute any allegations of piracy or fraudulent intrusion into our system.”
The company is suing Raila and other unidentified people in both French and Kenyan courts for damaging the company’s “reputation and honor,” he said. OT-Morpho said in a statement yesterday it’s willing to open its system for additional scrutiny by an independent body under the authority of IEBC to prove the system was not hacked.
Raila has demanded the electoral commission be overhauled and said he wants guarantees on fairness before his alliance agrees to participate in the rerun. He also maintains that set a series of conditions it said are necessary for a rerun of last month’s annulled presidential vote to be credible, as he accused the electoral authority of preparing “another sham election.”
The conditions include replacing personnel at the IEBC who “abetted fraud” and live media coverage of results declarations at the country’s 290 constituency tallying centers, NASA co-leader Musalia Mudavadi told reporters.
Kenya’s Supreme Court on September 1, annulled the August 8th presidential vote, in which President Uhuru Kenyatta was declared the winner, after finding there were “irregularities and illegalities” in the process. The ruling marked the first time an African court overturned the results of a presidential election.
Mudavadi said the commission is failing to acknowledge that court had found it culpable. The opposition won’t accept the printing of ballots by Dubai-based Al Ghurair Printing & Publishing, whose contract for last month’s vote was challenged in court before finally being allowed.
Long voters queues during August General Election
He shared a letter he said had been sent to IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati that called for the “thorough, independent transparent end-to-end audit and quality assurance” of elections-technology systems before the vote.
Argued Mudavadi, “The commission wants to proceed as if the illegalities and irregularities never happened and as if it were never indicted by the same Supreme Court. We see no evidence that the commission is making a good faith effort to conduct a fresh election that fulfills the letter and spirit of the judgment.”
A European Union observer mission on Thursday also urged the electoral body to allow independent scrutiny of its computer servers and technology systems to help guarantee the rerun is fair and credible.
The opposition alliance, led by Raila Odinga, has threatened to call supporters onto the streets to prevent the rerun from taking place if the chief executive officer of the commission CEO Ezra Chiloba refuses to step down.
The commission on Monday signaled it won’t change its executive body, announcing that “one team with a common vision” will handle the election, with Chiloba “being charged with assessing the “implementation challenges” in August’s vote.
Kenya’s new democracy: Votes do not count, system does
Kenyans are awaiting the full Supreme Court judgment in which they expect Chief Justice David Maraga to spell out the specific Constitutional and Legal breaches that led to the presidential election annulment.
Kenyans expect to read a judgment containing;
- The specific nature of illegalities and irregularities that were committed;
- Which specific Sections of the Constitution were breached – enumerated as per section;
- What sections of the Electoral laws were contravened contrary to the law;
- Who contravened them – specific suspects;
- What are the legal penalties – as stipulated in law.
Further, they will expect to know;
- When if any investigations will or have been instituted,
- When arrests, charges and prosecutions will be carried out.
Any other demands, particularly before the Supreme Court has spelt out the specific illegalities and irregularities committed, are tantamount to intimidation of IEBC and it’s staff and a violation of their Constitutional presumption of innocence until proven guilty through due legal process. They should not be subjected to pre-trials by Political Kangaroo Courts, which portends Great danger to Kenya’s criminal justice system under, God forbid, if NASA were to get to power.
NASA says it will institute private prosecutions – does it have an advance copy of full Supreme Court judgment?
Meanwhile Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) has admitted the Okoa Raila Safaricom Paybill donations are getting the party campaign nowhere. Homa Bay ODM Women Representative Gladys Wanga in a “Top Secret” circular urges NASA elected members to contribute their Ksh 100,000 soonest because the paybill has yet to raise even Ksh 5 million since its launch. Hopefully ODM will not eventually claim Safaricom hacked into its Paybill account.
Wanga has advised NASA losers to defer their petitions and contribute to Raila campaign kitty since he will direct courts to nullify all elections of Jubilee winners once he is elected president.