NAIROBI, Kenya – Kenya's High Court on Friday cancelled a contract for a Dubai-based firm to print ballot papers for next month's presidential election after the opposition, which claimed the firm is linked to President Uhuru Kenyatta, challenged the way it was issued.
The three-judge panel said the claim of a Kenyatta link to the firm could not be proved. But it said there was no public participation in the choice of Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing and that the electoral commission did not follow procurement rules.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission had argued there isn't enough time to issue the contract to another firm. The judges disagreed.
The National Super Alliance presidential candidate Raila Odinga has accused Kenyatta of influencing the awarding of the contract. Odinga claims the firm is colluding with the president to print extra ballot papers for electoral fraud.
Kenyatta has denied the claims and accused the opposition of trying to sabotage the Aug. 8 elections. Observers already have warned of the possibility of violence around the elections as in past years.
Kenyatta beat former prime minister Odinga in 2013 with 50.07 percent of the vote, narrowly avoiding a runoff election. Odinga petitioned the Supreme Court alleging electoral fraud, but the court upheld Kenyatta's victory.
Al Ghurair Printing and Publishing is owned by the Dubai-based Al Ghurair Group, which has interests in construction, petrochemicals, real estate and other industries.
A secretary there who spoke to an Associated Press journalist put him on the phone with a man who identified himself as Rajiv Dyadi. Told about the Kenyan opposition allegations, he said he would call back but did not immediately do so. Other calls and emails to the Al Ghurair Group were not immediately returned.
Associated Press writer Jon Gambrell in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, contributed.