Kenya elec­tion tally dis­puted; 3 slain

Ac­cu­sa­tions of com­puter hack­ing prompt protests by op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers.

Los Angeles Times - - THE WORLD - By Robyn Dixon robyn.dixon@la­times.com Twit­ter: @RobynDixon_LAT

NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya’s op­po­si­tion pres­i­den­tial can­di­date, Raila Odinga, on Tues­day re­jected the tally from this week’s elec­tion, say­ing hack­ers had ma­nip­u­lated data in the elec­tion com­mis­sion’s com­puter sys­tem.

At least three op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers were killed in protests that erupted in sev­eral ar­eas af­ter Odinga made his ac­cu­sa­tion, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses and po­lice.

The re­sults of the hotly con­tested cam­paign have not been an­nounced, but early re­turns posted by the In­de­pen­dent Elec­toral and Boundaries Com­mis­sion give Pres­i­dent Uhuru Keny­atta a strong lead.

Com­mis­sion chief Wa­fula Che­bukati said Wed­nes­day that he did not know whether the sys­tem had been hacked but vowed to in­ves­ti­gate the claim. He said the pro­gres­sive tally on the web­site was not the fi­nal re­sult and promised an au­dit of vot­ing be­fore a fi­nal an­nounce­ment.

With about 95% of the bal­lots tal­lied, the pres­i­dent has opened up a lead of 1.4 mil­lion votes, ac­cord­ing to the count recorded on the com­mis­sion web­site. Odinga’s re­jec­tion of the tally fu­eled ten­sion among op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers fear­ful of a stolen elec­tion, and raised fears a dis­puted re­sult could trig­ger vi­o­lence.

The op­po­si­tion claim cen­tered on the tor­ture and slay­ing of a key elec­tion of­fi­cial, Chris Msando, who was in charge of in­for­ma­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy at the elec­tion com­mis­sion, just days be­fore the vote. In­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy ex­perts for the op­po­si­tion claimed Wed­nes­day that Msando’s user ID and pass­word had been used to hack into the IEBC com­puter sys­tem and gain ac­cess to Che­bukati’s ac­count start­ing at 12:37 a.m. They said an al­go­rithm had been planted that gave Keny­atta an au­to­matic 11% lead.

“This is a fraud of mon­u­men­tal grav­ity. Some peo­ple con­spired and de­nied Kenyans the op­por­tu­nity to elect their lead­ers,” Odinga said. “We didn’t have an elec­tion.”

He said the op­po­si­tion’s in­for­mal vote tally gave him 8.1 mil­lion votes com­pared with 7.2 mil­lion for Keny­atta. He re­leased 50 pages of what he said were the com­puter logs of the elec­toral com­mis­sion, which he said proved his claims.

Elec­tions in Kenya are eth­ni­cally charged, and past pres­i­den­tial elec­tions had been flawed, ac­cord­ing to in­ter­na­tional ob­servers. With ten­sion as high as it is, there are fears of a re­peat of the eth­nic killings that fol­lowed the dis­puted 2007 elec­tion, which left as many as 1,500 peo­ple dead.

Op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers re­acted an­grily to Odinga’s claims, although he urged re­straint.

“We have urged peo­ple to re­main calm as we delve deeper into this mat­ter. I don’t con­trol the peo­ple, but I have asked them to re­main calm,” he told jour­nal­ists.

But wit­nesses said at least two pro­test­ers were shot dead by po­lice in the Mathare slum district af­ter an­gry op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers took to the streets, chant­ing “Uhuru must go!” and throw­ing rocks.

One wit­ness, Alice Ad­hi­ambo, 40, said she saw one young male pro­tester shot in the head by po­lice. She said the de­mon­stra­tors con­fronted po­lice in the af­ter­noon but fled when they fired tear gas and bul­lets. An­other pro­tester was taken to a clinic af­ter be­ing shot in the leg, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses.

Ear­lier, fu­ri­ous op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers in Mathare ha­rassed passersby, de­mand­ing to know their eth­nic group and rob­bing those from ri­val eth­nic groups, ac­cord­ing to a lo­cal peace ac­tivist, Jakiwa Inda.

“Af­ter Raila is­sued this state­ment, ten­sion came very high,” he said. “Most of the youths were out­side and I saw youths have started to ha­rass peo­ple who were just walk­ing. They started ask­ing, ‘What tribe are you?’ ”

Inda said com­mu­nity lead­ers had urged the an­gry op­po­si­tion sup­port­ers to calm down, with­out suc­cess.

“We are try­ing to plead with them to wait for the is­sue of the re­sult to set­tle,” he said.

Nairobi’s po­lice chief, Japheth Koome, con­firmed two peo­ple were shot dead and said they were steal­ing, the As­so­ci­ated Press re­ported. A re­gional po­lice com­man­der in Kisii county in western Kenya, Leonard Katana, con­firmed that po­lice opened fire on op­po­si­tion pro­test­ers, killing one per­son, the AP re­ported.

Che­bukati said the elec­toral com­mis­sion had called for an ex­am­i­na­tion of the of­fi­cial tally pa­pers from more than 40,000 polling sta­tions around the coun­try and would base the fi­nal re­sult on the forms.

“As for now, I can­not say whether the elec­tion has been hacked. We shall go into that and find out whether those claims are true.

“We just want to com­ply with the law. But we have had con­cerns raised and we can’t ig­nore those con­cerns. At the end of the day, we shall do an au­dit and those ques­tions will be an­swered,” he said.

In Nairobi’s Kib­era slum, there was also ten­sion over the op­po­si­tion al­le­ga­tions of elec­tion hack­ing and fraud, ac­cord­ing to wit­nesses.

“Peo­ple are not happy,” said op­po­si­tion sup­porter Oyoo Ogango, 30, who is un­em­ployed with three chil­dren. “Now I’m wor­ried. At first we thought it was fair, but it has been re­vealed that some shoddy things have hap­pened.

“Kenyans are good peo­ple. They just want to know that the elec­tion was fair. All we need is cred­i­ble elec­tions.”

Ogango also feared that any fu­ture call from op­po­si­tion lead­ers for demon­stra­tions against the re­sult could lead to may­hem in Kib­era and other ar­eas.

“When there’s some doc­tor­ing, I must be wor­ried. I’m a Kenyan. I went out and voted peace­fully. What I was ex­pect­ing was a cred­i­ble elec­tion, a peace­ful re­sult.”

Reuters re­ported that po­lice fired tear gas in Kisumu, western Kenya, an op­po­si­tion strong­hold, to dis­perse peo­ple chant­ing “No Raila, no peace.”

Vot­ing in 2007 was peace­ful, but vi­o­lence flared af­ter Odinga, who was the op­po­si­tion can­di­date, re­jected the re­sult and the then-pres­i­dent, Mwai Kibaki, had him­self sworn back into of­fice in the dead of night. In the weeks that fol­lowed, mem­bers of Kibaki’s Kikuyu eth­nic group and Odinga’s Luo group at­tacked, killed and raped one an­other and burned down houses. Other eth­nic groups were also drawn into the vi­o­lence.

Keny­atta, who is also Kikuyu, suc­ceeded Kibaki as pres­i­dent in 2013 elec­tions that Odinga also con­tested and dis­puted, say­ing the gov­ern­ment rigged the vote dur­ing elec­tronic transmission of re­sults to the cen­tral tally cen­ter.

Odinga took his chal­lenge to court in 2013 and lost. He has not in­di­cated how he will mount any chal­lenge to the re­sults in this elec­tion.

Luis Tato AFP/Getty Im­ages

OP­PO­SI­TION SUP­PORT­ERS protest in Nairobi’s Mathare district. Po­lice shot dead at least two pro­test­ers there, wit­nesses said.

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