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French IT firm says its tech won’t be ready for re-run of Kenya poll

Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta casts his ballot inside a polling station in his hometown of Gatundu in Kiambu county, Kenya August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Baz Ratner

A French IT company that supplied the electronic system used in Kenya’s nullified election last month has told the election commission its technology will not be ready to use again by the Oct. 17 date set for a re-run of the vote.

The statement presents a hurdle for the commission. It could threaten the timing of the election that President Uhuru Kenyatta, whose win on Aug. 8 win was canceled by the Supreme Court, will contest against opposition leader Raila Odinga.

When the Supreme Court nullified the results of the presidential election citing irregularities, it ordered a new poll within 60 days. The commission then declared Oct. 17 as the date for the re-run.

In a letter from Paris-based OT-Morpho to the election commission, the company said the two electronic systems it supplied for the vote would have to be reinstalled for the re-run.

“This represents a very significant amount of work, which cannot be secured by October 17,” said the letter dated Sept. 18 and seen by Reuters.

OT-Morpho provided 45,000 tablets for identifying voters using biometric technology and the system used to transmit results counted at polling stations as well as a photograph of the paper sheet from each station.

Delays in transmission of the tally sheets was an irregularity raised by the opposition in its petition to the Supreme Court. The court has not released its full verdict but has said it will do so by Thursday.

A spokesman for the company confirmed the letter was accurate.

Andrew Limo, a spokesman for the election board, said he was aware of the letter and the board met on Monday to discuss it. Earlier in the day, he told Reuters that “changing the date (of the election re-run) is a last resort strategy.”

The date of the new poll has been a source of tension between Kenyatta and Odinga.

Kenyatta and his ruling Jubilee party have said the re-run should be held on Oct. 17 as scheduled by the commission, while the opposition is threatening to boycott the new poll if its demands for the sacking of key election officials are not met.