Kenya’s “Peaceful” Elections turn Violent
By admin August 11, 2017

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Reportedly, a record number of Kenyans participated in the general election, mostly casting ballots in support of Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga; the sons of Kenya’s first president and first vice president, respectively. There were eight contenders in the running to become the leader of one East Africa’s most successful countries, but apart from Kenyatta and Odinga, no candidate polled more than 0.3 percent of the vote.

Before voting centers closed, residents of Kibera expressed worry to reporters, saying they feared a repeat of 2007 post-election conflict that left more than 1,200 people dead and 60,000 people displaced. Their concerns were not unfounded as violence quickly erupted upon announcements of incumbent leader Kenyatta’s early lead. Protests headed by Odinga supporters in opposition strongholds in Nairobi and Kisumu led to the suspension of train service from Mombasa to Nairobi and reports of police shooting at demonstrators in the southwestern area of the country.

On Tuesday, following the release of provisional results indicating a first-round victory for Kenyatta (54.3 percent of the vote with 95.3 percent of the votes in), Odinga rejected the outcomes, claiming that the IT system of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) had been hacked. Local observers said that they could not support nor dismiss Odinga’s claims, but the election situation is evidently questionable.

In early August, the body of the IEBC’s IT manager and supervisor of Kenya’s computerized voting system for the election, Chris Msando, was found in a forest on the outskirts of Nairobi. An investigation into the circumstances of his death is still ongoing, but an autopsy revealed that he had been tortured. Odinga alleges that hackers seeking to manipulate the election gained access to the IEBC computer system using Msando’s identity. The opposition leader made similar accusations of fraud during 2013 polling, so his behavior is not uncharacteristic. He has also stated that this was the last time he will run for president, so he may be taking his potential loss with a heavy heart.

Adding to suspicions, on Wednesday, Kenya’s Human Rights Commission uncovered discrepancies in a primary comparison between provisional results announced by the election commission and the paper forms signed by party agents at polling stations. The commission noted five examples that included a polling station in western Nandi county where the electoral board’s website documented 439 rejected votes but the paper form only had four.

Unfortunately, the Kenyan presidency is currently tainted by intrigue and confusion, but a win for Kenyatta would play out well for Kenyan markets. In an article published on Wednesday, Reuters said that a win for the incumbent would “soothe investors who feared a leftist shift in economic policy.” According to the S&P Global Agency, if the violence does not reach 2007 levels, the election shouldn’t affect “Kenya’s B+ credit rating.” As votes are tallied and results solidified, maybe Odinga will concede peacefully for the sake of Kenya’s stable outlook.


Further Reading:

Kenya Election 2017: Raila Odinga Says Election Systems Hacked

“I Don’t Want a Protest to be the End of My Life”

The Latest: Kenya Suspends Trains as Violent Protests Erupt

Kenya Rights Commission Questions Some Provisional Vote Tallies

Kenyan Election Official Chris Msando ‘tortured to death’

Kenya Opposition Leader Says Election Website Hacked to Show President in Lead

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