Kenyan elec­toral body de­nies fraud claims

Ob­servers hail polls and urge par­ties to keep calm

The Star Early Edition - - WORLD -

KENYA’S elec­tion com­mis­sion dis­missed claims yes­ter­day by op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga that its sys­tems and web­site had been hacked to pro­duce a “fic­ti­tious” lead for Odinga’s long-time ri­val, Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta.

And an AU elec­tion ob­server mis­sion yes­ter­day said it was “pleased” with the elec­tions, which it de­scribed as “peace­ful” and meet­ing the re­quired stan­dards.

Nearly 20 mil­lion Kenyans reg­is­tered to vote in the hotly con­tested pres­i­den­tial and par­lia­men­tary elec­tions.

Former pres­i­dent Thabo Mbeki, who is lead­ing the AU ob­server mis­sion, said the count­ing of votes was be­ing car­ried out in a trans­par­ent man­ner in the pres­ence of all party rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

But AU ob­servers had noted con­cerns raised by Odinga, who claimed that Kenya’s elec­toral com­mis­sion’s sys­tems had been “hacked” by Keny­atta’s Ju­bilee party, and that the re­sults so far were a “fraud”.

Keny­atta the son of Kenya’s found­ing pres­i­dent Jomo Keny­atta

was lead­ing by about two mil­lion votes, with count­ing ex­pected to be con­cluded late yes­ter­day.

Mbeki also re­vealed that dur­ing vot­ing, Odinga, who leads the Na­tional Su­per Al­liance, com­plained about the move­ment of se­cu­rity per­son­nel from one polling sta­tion to an­other, al­leg­ing they were pos­si­bly in­volved in vote-rig­ging.

Mbeki said the mat­ter had been looked into by the AU mis­sion, which was one of sev­eral elec­toral ob­server groups from Africa, the EU and the US.

An­gry protests erupted in op­po­si­tion strongholds in the Kenyan cap­i­tal Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu as the count­ing of votes from Tues­day’s elec­tion con­tin­ued, but the elec­tion com­mis­sion said the elec­tion had been free and fair.

Po­lice shot dead at least three peo­ple and pro­test­ers killed a fourth, wit­nesses said. Al­though the vi­o­lence re­mained largely con­tained, Kenyans were ner­vously hop­ing to avoid a rep­e­ti­tion of the eth­nic killings that fol­lowed a dis­puted 2007 pres­i­den­tial poll, when about 1 200 peo­ple died.

Yes­ter­day, pro­vi­sional re­sults from the elec­tion com­mis­sion web­site put Keny­atta in front with 54.3% of votes counted to 44.8% for Odinga – a mar­gin of 1.4 mil­lion bal­lots with 97% of polling sta­tions re­ported.

Ear­lier, Odinga pub­lished his own party’s as­sess­ment of the count on Twit­ter, say­ing he had 8.1 mil­lion votes against 7.2 mil­lion for Keny­atta. He pro­vided no sup­port­ing doc­u­men­ta­tion.

“Our elec­tion man­age­ment sys­tem is se­cure. There was no ex­ter­nal in­ter­fer­ence to the sys­tem at any point be­fore, dur­ing or af­ter vot­ing,” elec­tion com­mis­sion head Ezra Chiloba told a news con­fer­ence.

“The (hack­ing) claims be­ing made could not be sub­stan­ti­ated from our end,” he said fol­low­ing an in­ves­ti­ga­tion.

Odinga had said hack­ers could have used the iden­tity of a top elec­tion of­fi­cial, who was tor­tured and mur­dered days be­fore the vote. His state­ments raised con­cerns of un­rest over the re­sults in Kenya, which has East Africa’s big­gest econ­omy and is a re­gional hub.

Odinga posted 50 pages of com­puter logs on­line to sup­port his hack­ing claims, but they were “in­con­clu­sive”, ac­cord­ing to Matt Bern­hard, who stud­ies com­puter se­cu­rity in elec­tion sys­tems at the Univer­sity of Michi­gan.

Some time stamps ap­peared out of or­der and it was hard to eval­u­ate the ve­rac­ity of screen­shots with­out ac­cess to a server, he said.

Odinga urged his sup­port­ers to re­main calm, but added: “I don’t con­trol the peo­ple.” His deputy, Kalonzo Musyoka, said the op­po­si­tion might call for un­spec­i­fied “ac­tion” later.

In Nairobi po­lice killed one de­mon­stra­tor, and in Kisumu, an op­po­si­tion strong­hold, they fired tear­gas to scat­ter a group of 100 pro­test­ers. Un­armed men marched through the streets wav­ing sticks and chant­ing “No Raila, no peace”.

In coastal Tana River county, a gang wield­ing ma­chetes at­tacked a tal­ly­ing centre, killing one man and in­jur­ing an­other, said a com­mu­nity el­der who wit­nessed the at­tack. Po­lice shot dead two at­tack­ers.

For­eign ob­server mis­sions de­clined to com­ment on the hack­ing al­le­ga­tions, but urged all par­ties to stay calm.

PIC­TURE: REUTERS

A Kenyan riot policeman points his ri­fle to­wards demon­stra­tors sup­port­ing op­po­si­tion leader Raila Odinga in Kisumu on Wed­nes­day af­ter Odinga claimed ‘mas­sive’ fraud in this week’s elec­tions.

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