Kenya’s Odinga seeks vote data closure
Opposition willing to concede
NAIROBI: In a significant climbdown, Kenya’s opposition coalition has said it would accept the result of this week’s presidential vote as long as the election commission granted it access to see raw data on its computer servers.
The results of this week’s poll saw President Uhuru Kenyatta decisively the winner with a lead of about 1.4 million votes for his second and final five-year term. The opposition earlier this week rejected figures released by the electoral commission and said its candidate, Raila Odinga, should be declared president. Odinga has lost the last two elections, claiming fraud in both cases.
Many Kenyans feared the dispute would lead to violent protests after more than 1 000 people were killed following the contested 2007 election.
“If they can open those servers, and we all look at it, we are prepared to accept the results of what is contained in those servers,” James Orengo, chief election agent for the NASA opposition coalition, said.
Orengo also called for other candidates and observers to be given access to the servers so there could be a transparent audit of data from 41 000 polling stations across the country.
Yakub Guliye, election commissioner in charge of information technology, said the opposition needed to make a formal request.
Odinga’s camp previously claimed figures released by the commission since Tuesday’s vote were “fictitious” and that “confidential sources” within the commission had provided figures showing Odinga had a large lead but the election commission said these claims contained basic mathematical errors.
International observers meanwhile gave the thumbs-up to the vote and US ambassador Robert Godec issued a statement on behalf of the diplomatic community calling for any complaints to be channelled through the courts, not street protests.
“If there are disputes or disagreements, the Kenyan constitution is very clear on how they are to be addressed. Violence must never be an option,” he said yesterday.
“Now is the time for leaders, across the political spectrum, to demonstrate their commitment to (the) constitution and to the institutions it creates and the values it sets out.”
As well as a new president, Kenyans also elected new lawmakers and local representatives. Some of those races have also been disputed, leading to violence in Garissa and Tana River counties.
“The vote is clear. It was a very good election, there were no problems and now he must concede,” Mohammad Amber, a 40- year- old engineer who voted for Odinga, said. “He must move on. Even in football, there are winners and losers.”
Murithi Mutiga, senior Kenya analyst at the think-tank International Crisis Group, said the opposition had softened its stance and their call for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission to open up their servers and open it up to scrutiny… might help calm tempers.”
Police beefed up security across much of Kenya – particularly in opposition strongholds of Nairobi. – Reute