The government is moving to curb the influence of foreign money in elections by blocking direct financing of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) ahead of the 2022 polls.
The decision recently confirmed to the United Nations Development Fund (UNDP) — which has been managing the election funding — in a letter, comes as international organizations involved in election support programmes and who had closed shop after the 2017 polls begin to come back.
The letter from the government was written in response to an earlier one by the donors as they sought clearance to start the new programme that would have lasted up to the 2022 elections and beyond.
Between 2015 and 2018, the UNDP’s Support to Electoral Processes in Kenya (SEPK) extended support to the tune of $24 million (Sh2.6 billion) to constitutionally mandated institutions engaged in the electoral process, namely the IEBC, the Office of the Registrar of Political Parties, the Judiciary, the police, media, and civil society.
Those who have been donating to the UNDP basket fund include the United States Agency for International Development, the UK’s Department for International Development, the European Union, the Embassy of Ireland, and the Embassy of Italy.
In the past, through UNDP, donors have funded voter registration, election security, technology acquisition, training for IEBC staff and the police and legal reforms, among others.
The government’s move to block direct financing comes at a time when there has been an ongoing debate about the sustainability of programmes and the credibility of the global organisations that implement election support programmes.
With just about two years to the next elections, several organizations such as the International Foundation for Electoral Systems and the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, among others, are coming back or reactivating dormant programmes.