US ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec has refuted claims that his country is undertaking an illegal civic education program in the country with the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES), which the government accused of operating without a legal mandate.
In a statement by several foreign envoys including US, UK, European Union, Australia and Canada, Godec maintained that IFES is a duly registered company in Kenya, and has been involved in civic education programs in the country since 2002.
“IFES is registered in Kenya under the companies act and has legal standing to conduct programs here,” the US envoy said, adding that 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.”
“As close friends of Kenya, our electoral assistance is just one small part of a very much larger partnership in which we work together every day on education, health, security, the environment, and economic development,” Godec said.
The NGO board of Kenya yesterday terminated the civic education program by USAID dubbed “Kenya Electoral Assistance program, KEAP 2017″, which is being run in partnership with the American NGO IFES, on allegations that IFES is not duly registered and is operating illegally in the country.
“Records held by the NGO board shows that IFES, is not a registered body in Kenya and therefore lacks the legal status to operate in the country. In addition the section 22 (1) of cap 134 laws Kenya clearly outlaws and prescribes penalties and jail term for the operation of an NGO in Kenya without registration,” executive director of the board Fazul Mahamed said yesterday in a letter written to USAID.
The board also said all foreign staff working for the firm are operating without work permits and asked the director of immigration to review the immigration status of all foreign employees and take appropriate legal action as stipulated under the Citizenship and Immigration Act.
The board also went ahead to ask the Central Bank of Kenya to freeze all bank accounts and funds associated with IFES until further notice.
Godec refuted the claims by the government that the civic education programs are aimed at scheming to influence next year’s elections saying that their assistance focuses on supporting Kenyans to independently exercise their right to vote.
“To be clear, we do not provide electoral assistance to any organisation, governmental or non-governmental, to influence the election results for any side, political party, or candidate,” the statement further states.