Deadly protests in Kenya

Op­po­si­tion al­leges vote hack­ing

North Bay Nugget - - WORLD NEWS - Tom odula and ChrisTo­pher TorChia

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s elec­tion took an omi­nous turn on Wed­nes­day as vi­o­lent protests erupted in the cap­i­tal and else­where af­ter op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga al­leged fraud, say­ing hack­ers used the iden­tity of a mur­dered of­fi­cial to in­fil­trate the data­base of the coun­try’s elec­tion com­mis­sion and ma­nip­u­late re­sults.

With re­sults from al­most all of the polling sta­tions counted, Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta was shown with a wide lead over Odinga in his bid for a sec­ond term.

Soon af­ter Odinga spoke on tele­vi­sion, an­gry pro­test­ers in slums of Nairobi and the op­po­si­tion strong­hold of Kisumu in the south­west burned tires, set up road­blocks and clashed with po­lice, wit­nesses said.

Two peo­ple were shot dead in Nairobi as they took ad­van­tage of the protests to steal, Nairobi po­lice chief Japheth Koome said. An As­so­ci­ated Press pho­tog­ra­pher said one was shot in the head. Po­lice killed one per­son when they opened fire on pro­test­ers in an­other op­po­si­tion strong­hold in Kisii county, said Leonard Katana, a re­gional po­lice com­man­der.

Many parts of Kenya, East Africa’s com­mer­cial hub, were calm a day af­ter the elec­tions for pres­i­dent and more than 1,800 other posts down to the county level. But the vi­o­lence stirred mem­o­ries of the un­rest fol­low­ing the 2007 vote in which more than 1,000 peo­ple were killed. Odinga lost that elec­tion; he also lost the 2013 vote to Keny­atta and took al­le­ga­tions of vote-tam­per­ing to the Supreme Court, which rejected his case.

Odinga, a former prime min­is­ter, blamed Keny­atta’s Ju­bilee Party for the al­leged hack­ing of the elec­tion data­base.

“The fraud Ju­bilee has per­pet­u­ated on Kenyans sur­passes any level of voter theft in our coun­try’s his­tory. This time we caught them,” he tweeted. He also posted on­line what he said were com­puter logs prov­ing his al­le­ga­tion.

Odinga claimed that hack­ers used the iden­tity of Christo­pher Msando, an elec­tion of­fi­cial in charge of man­ag­ing in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy sys­tems. On July 31, of­fi­cials an­nounced that Msando had been tor­tured and killed, alarm­ing Kenyans who feared a re­cur­rence of po­lit­i­cal vi­o­lence that has been fu­eled by eth­nic di­vi­sions.

A Tues­day morn­ing en­try in the pur­ported com­puter logs that Odinga posted on Face­book reads: “Lo­gin failed for user ‘msando’. Rea­son: The pass­word of the ac­count must be changed.”

Rafael Tuju, a top of­fi­cial in Keny­atta’s party, said the op­po­si­tion’s claims were un­founded.

Kenya’s elec­tion com­mis­sion said it will in­ves­ti­gate Odinga’s al­le­ga­tions. “For now, I can­not say whether or not the sys­tem has been hacked,” said Wa­fula Che­bukati, the com­mis­sion chair­man.

Keny­atta was lead­ing with 54.35 per cent and Odinga had 44.77 per cent af­ter votes at more than 39,320 of the 40,883 polling sta­tions were counted, ac­cord­ing to the elec­tion com­mis­sion.

In the city of Kisumu, po­lice used tear gas and shot at pro­test­ers who were up­set af­ter Odinga’s fraud al­le­ga­tions, said de­mon­stra­tor Sebastian Omolo.

“He is not ac­cept­ing the re­sults and that is why we are on the streets, but po­lice have started shoot­ing,” Omolo said.

Kisumu shop­keeper Fes­tus Od­hi­ambo said he was pray­ing for peace even as pro­test­ers blocked roads into city slums with bon­fires and boul­ders.

The western port city on Lake Vic­to­ria has been a flash­point in past elec­tions.

Kenya’s in­te­rior min­is­ter, Fred Ma­tiangi, warned against the use of so­cial me­dia to stoke tensions. Of­fi­cials have said it was un­likely they would shut down the in­ter­net but said they might shut down some so­cial me­dia if nec­es­sary to calm hate speech and in­cite­ment.

“We as­sure Kenyans and all res­i­dents, the coun­try is safe and I urge ev­ery­one to go on freely with their daily chores,” Ma­tiangi said.

Odinga’s run­ning mate, Kalonzo Musyoka, also called for re­straint as the fraud al­le­ga­tions arein­ves­ti­gated.

“There may come a time we may have to call you to ac­tion,” Musyoka said. “But for now it is im­por­tant we be strate­gic as we delve deep into this mat­ter.”

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