The Africa Report - - CONTENTS - In­ter­view by Mark An­der­son in Nairobi

Raila Odinga, pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Nasa, Kenya

Vet­eran Kenyan op­po­si­tion­ist talks to The Africa Re­port about the Supreme Court’s his­tor­i­cal de­ci­sion to throw out the re­sult of the 8 Au­gust pres­i­den­tial vote “The in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity should take this as a good les­son”

Kenya’s Supreme Court an­nounced on 1 Septem­ber that it had an­nulled the re­sult of the Au­gust pres­i­den­tial elec­tion that handed vic­tory to the in­cum­bent, Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta, say­ing there were ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties and vi­o­la­tions of the law. Chal­lenger Raila Odinga will face off against Keny­atta for the third time in Oc­to­ber and says that he will not sit by and watch the same mis­takes be made again.

TAR: How does the Supreme Court rul­ing to an­nul the 8 Au­gust elec­tion make you feel? RAILA ODINGA: I think it’s for the first time, not only in Kenya but in Africa, that a supreme court has had the courage to come out and make a bold state­ment that the elec­tions were not con­ducted in ac­cor­dance with the con­sti­tu­tion. I have been ob­serv­ing elec­tions in other African coun­tries, and I know that this has been hap­pen­ing in so many of our African coun­tries. And the ob­servers have never had the courage to cry foul. That’s why they say that the Kenya rul­ing is his­toric […]. It has ush­ered the con­ti­nent into a new era al­to­gether. Im­me­di­ately af­ter the elec­tion you said that you would not go to court. Why did you say that? In the last elec­tions, in 2013, the sit­u­a­tion was sim­i­lar but we did not win our ap­peal. We were not able to gather the ev­i­dence fast enough. Why? Be­cause the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Bound­aries Com­mis­sion (IEBC) re­fused to al­low us ac­cess to their records. And the time was tick­ing be­cause the pe­riod is very short. […] But this time round we had agents in most parts of the coun­try, and we also had tal­ly­ing cen­tres. First we wanted to give our ev­i­dence to some­body else like the Africa Cen­tre for Open Gov­er­nance (AFRICOG) or the Kenya Hu­man Rights Com­mis­sion (KHRC). Re­mem­ber when the po­lice stormed the of­fices of AFRICOG and the KHRC and said they had not paid taxes? So we said, in that case we will go our­selves.

The re-run of the elec­tion is sched­uled for 17 Oc­to­ber. Are you con­fi­dent that the elec­toral com­mis­sion will be ready? I think it’s not go­ing to be pos­si­ble to hold the elec­tion on 17 Oc­to­ber be­cause the IEBC is con­flicted and di­vided. There are those who re­ally want gen­uine re­forms so that we can have free and fair elec­tions; there are those who are ba­si­cally par­ti­san and are ba­si­cally fronting Ju­bilee’s po­si­tion. We think that the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity ought to get in­volved in this be­cause this is some­thing that is go­ing to lead to a se­ri­ous cri­sis in this coun­try. Peo­ple have lost con­fi­dence in the elec­toral com­mis­sion or in elec­tions as a way of chang­ing gov­ern­ment.

What changes do you want to see be­fore a new pres­i­den­tial elec­tion can take place? We don’t want [IEBC chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer] Ezra Chiloba any­where near where elec­tions are be­ing held. That’s our start­ing point. We want the IEBC to re­move about six other se­nior of­fi­cials. We want an au­dit of the Kenya In­te­grated Elec­tions Man­age­ment Sys­tem, in­clud­ing ac­cess to the servers, and we want to reg­is­ter prop­erly au­dited polling sta­tions. Ju­bilee cre­ated more than 700 un­reg­is­tered polling sta­tions – that’s where ghost vot­ers voted. So the IEBC is now un­der pres­sure. They are be­ing con­trolled from the out­side, and this is not healthy for our na­tion. And there­fore we want the United Na­tions to en­sure that a proper en­vi­ron­ment is cre­ated in which free and fair elec­tions could be held.

Would you say part of the prob­lem is the IEBC does not un­der­stand the grav­ity of the sit­u­a­tion? Def­i­nitely. They do not un­der­stand the mag­ni­tude of the prob­lem, and I think it is be­cause they are un­der pres­sure from the Ju­bilee side. But this mat­ter is

a very grave mat­ter in­deed. It can­not be sorted out in the short time al­lot­ted. Time is not an is­sue here, we just must get it right. Oth­er­wise, we say we will not go for an elec­tion where even the IEBC it­self is ad­mit­ting that there are such grave mis­takes. The IEBC is now torn. The chair­man has ba­si­cally ad­mit­ted that there were mis­takes and th­ese mis­takes must be rec­ti­fied be­fore we go for another elec­tion. But you can see that the other com­mis­sion­ers are be­ing de­fen­sive. They are fail­ing to own up. Af­ter the elec­tion the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity was pres­sur­ing you to con­cede de­feat. What is your mes­sage to them? There is a Latin say­ing, er­rare hu­manum est, mean­ing that to err is hu­man, but to re­peat a mis­take is stu­pid­ity it­self. So we’re say­ing that we are will­ing to give them the ben­e­fit of the doubt. This one here, of course, they messed up. And I think they should take this as a good les­son for them and start soul-search­ing. When they go for another mis­sion else­where, they should not take many things at face value. Elec­tions are very im­por­tant to any na­tion.

What are some of the unan­swered ques­tions that you have about the elec­tions? We have 500,000 peo­ple who voted only for the pres­i­dent – they didn’t vote for any­body else. What did the IEBC do with the five other bal­lots? They were un­able to an­swer that ques­tion in court. Then we have the case of the elec­toral data­base. Ac­cord­ing to the logs the IEBC gave us, re­sults were be­ing posted in there the day be­fore the elec­tions. Ju­bilee’s chief agent Davis Chirchir used his own ac­count to post re­sults in the sys­tem.

What about the role of the tech­nol­ogy com­pa­nies that had con­tracts with the IEBC? We’ve writ­ten a let­ter to the French gov­ern­ment in which we are com­plain­ing about the con­duct of French tech­nol­ogy com­pany Ot-mor­pho in this elec­tion process. They were con­tracted to sup­ply the in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion tech­nol­ogy in­fras­truc­ture by the gov­ern­ment, but it ap­pears there was col­lu­sion be­tween them and the gov­ern­ment here to fa­cil­i­tate rig­ging of this elec­toral process. We don’t ex­pect that this kind of thing would be done by a com­pany com­ing from the Euro­pean Union. That a French com­pany can be do­ing this to us here in Africa, it’s some­thing that is most re­gret­table. They are def­i­nitely on the wrong side of his­tory. You vis­ited your friend Nana Akuf o-Ad do in Ghana last De­cem­ber and saw him sweep to power off the back of a dig­i­tally savvy strat­egy. Is that some­thing that you took in­spi­ra­tion from? Cer­tainly we learnt a lot from them and sent up peo­ple who trained our peo­ple to set up our sys­tem of ev­i­dence col­lec­tion, our sys­tem of tal­ly­ing. We had a sim­i­lar tal­ly­ing cen­tre sys­tem, so we worked very closely.

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