Police in Kenya have arrested three contractors working for the electoral commission when they landed at the country’s main airport in Nairobi, the commission said in a statement.
The arrests could add to tensions in the run-up to the August 9 general election, as previous votes have been marred by allegations of fraud.
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In a tweeted statement on Friday, the police said they had arrested and later released a “foreigner” who had not declared sensitive election-related stickers discovered in their personal luggage.
THE ARREST OF A FOREIGNER WITH IEBC RELATED MATERIALS pic.twitter.com/Lm4FMvr9Cb
— National Police Service-Kenya (@NPSOfficial_KE) July 22, 2022
They did not mention that two others had been arrested and the statement appeared to be a reaction to one by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) on Thursday.
The electoral commission had said in a statement that three employees of voting technology firm Smartmatic were arrested on arrival at Jomo Kenyatta International Airport earlier that day.
IEBC has contracted Smartmatic to supply, test and maintain software, hardware and accessories for the election.
“The brazen decision of the security authorities to arrest … the three personnel without justification is an exhibition of intimidation,” IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said.
Police said they were not notified about the import of election materials beforehand.
“The stickers were not accompanied by an IEBC official as per routine procedure,” police spokesman Bruno Shioso said in a statement.
Investigations revealed the stickers were legitimate IEBC property related to next month’s election, police said.
A Smartmatic spokesperson did not immediately respond to an emailed request for comment.
Next month’s election pits veteran candidate Raila Odinga against Deputy President William Ruto in what opinion polls suggest will be a tight race.
Deadly clashes followed the 2007 and 2017 votes.