Kenya’s Odinga seeks vote data clo­sure

Op­po­si­tion will­ing to con­cede

Weekend Argus (Saturday Edition) - - FRONT PAGE -

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

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