The tallying of votes after national elections in Kenya has kicked off, and the Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is posting updates live on its website. Local media outlets are providing breathless coverage, as well explanations of how the tallying process works.
The country so far has avoided manifestation of an expectation, especially among many foreign media outlets, of mass violence similar to what occurred after 2007 polls. Some more positives: the technology behind the process was largely a success outside isolated incidents. This is a huge step forward compared to elections in 2013 when more than half of the electronic voter ID devices failed and the system used for the electronic transmission of results crashed.
Women also are likely bound for some historic achievements based on the results to date.
Via the East African: “It is history in the making as, for the first time, at least three women are almost certain of being the first female governors in Kenya once the election results are officially declared. The three are Bomet’s Joyce Laboso, Kirinyaga’s Anne Waiguru and Kitui’s Charity Ngilu. For the first time also, three other women are set to become first female senators after final results are announced. They are Uasin Gishu’s Margaret Kamar, Nakuru’s Susan Kihika and Isiolo’s Fatuma Dullo.”
In the most closely watched race, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta has a lead of more than 1.3 million votes over his challenger NASA coalition candidate Raila Odinga. The lead is likely insurmountable, but these results are not final.
In fact, the opposition and ruling party disagree on whether the live results accurately match with the tally of the polling stations as listed in Form 34A and 34B. These forms are the primary documents at the polling station that show how many votes each candidate received, the number of rejected votes, and other information.
The opposition has claimed that they have not received copies of these forms, and more drastically, that hackers infiltrated the voting system to manipulate the vote total as displayed online.
Election commission chairman Wafula Chebukati responded in saying, “For now, I cannot say whether or not the system has been hacked.” It was also reported that the election commission “had received 28,000 form 34A’s as of 9 a.m. [on Wednesday],” and it would acknowledge the results from these hard copies rather than those in the electronic transmission if there were any discrepancies, according to Business Daily Africa.
So, the commission will be under heavy pressure to finalize the numbers in the coming days through verification against the polling centre forms.
Meanwhile, Odinga’s proclamations of “fake” and “sham” results have heightened tensions and sparked post-election protests. These demonstrations have been vigorous – with marching, machetes, chants, and burning tires.
There appears to be at least 26 election-related deaths tied to some sort of controversy, including those below and in the corresponding map.
- Kenyan police opened fire on people protesting election results earlier Wednesday in the opposition stronghold of South Mugirango constituency in Kisii county, killing one person, according to Leonard Katana, a regional police commander. The police officer who shot the man is in custody pending an investigation.
- Police gunned down two knife-wielding attackers at Hola tallying centre in Tana River, according to Citizen TV Kenya. At least five assailants were involved in the incident. The Daily Nation reported, “The attackers stabbed one person to death and injured several others on Wednesday evening before police gunned down two of them.”
- Approximately 500-600 youths gathered in the Kondele area of Kisumu chanting, “Uhuru must go.” Video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vw7_m76dF50; protesters also barricaded roads in Homa Bay
- In the Mathare area of Nairobi: Japheth Koome, police chief for Nairobi, said two protesters were killed after they had tried to “attack our officers with pangas (machetes) and that’s when the officers opened fire on them. Reports also detailed “minor riots” in Nairobi’s Huruma estate.
This election, like any such exercise, was not perfect, and below is a list of many of the improprieties that allegedly took place. Notably, none of these incidents have attracted a level of concern as large as Odgina’s hacking claim.
- Nyamira County official Douglas Bosire was arrested over bribery allegations and almost $10,000 was recovered in the effort, according to county police boss Titus Ndung’u.
- Confusion in Narok: a video posted online alleged that Kenya police had walled off access to Narok Stadium as voting numbers were being tallied, raising suspicion about the transparency of the counting process.
- According to the Daily Nation: “Two people were arrested in Likoni constituency, Mombasa County, over voter bribery allegations. Police said the suspects identified as Jeremiah Sosi Musudia and Athman Ali Safisi were arrested while buying ID cards from the voters.”
- A Kitui County executive committee member was on Monday attacked by voters over allegations of vote buying. Reports stated, “Mr. [Gitonga] Nkuda had sustained serious head injuries before members of public handed him over to police officers, who took him to Katse police station for questioning…Another county official, Ms Ruth Katongu Mutonya working in the Finance department, was also nabbed by police while, allegedly, dishing out money to voters at Katulani in Kitui Central.”
- Jubilee (ruling party) poll agents were arrested for counting voters in Thika town. The Star noted that “while is it not an irregularity or malpractice, tallying voters at polling centres is not allowed.”
- An IEBC clerk was arrested for issuing multiple voting ballot papers in Changamwe, Mombasa. “Kennedy Mulwa reportedly issued two ballot papers for president, MP, and Senator positions to each voter,” per the Star.
- The electoral commission has cancelled results for a polling station in Kilgoris (Narok County) after voters outnumbered those in the registry.
- Five election officers were arrested over unsealed ballots in the Nyando constituency of Kisumu county. “The ballot box for woman representative, senator, governor, MP and MCA have been tampered with,” an election official at the site reported.
The election commission has one week, per the constitution, to announce the final results, but it seems unlikely Raila Odinga could overcome the million-plus vote deficit with President Kenyatta. With this in mind, the substantial number of rejected votes — at over 394,000 — could become one of the most relevant issues instead. (In the 2013 elections, there were about 109,000 spoiled votes, which was significantly lower.)
In 2013, Odinga lost a Supreme Court case challenging Kenyatta’s victory in the presidential race. Will 2017 hold the same fate for the aging political icon?
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