kenya
16 Aug
  • By James Evans

Protests have erupted after Kenyan Elections

Tensions are rising in Kenya as protesters clash with police after the leader of the opposition Raila Odinga claimed he has been cheated of victory by a hacking attack which he maintains has manipulated the results in the countries election. He has claimed the election was rigged to favour his main political rival the current President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Odinga has urged his supporters to stay calm, but noted that: “I don’t control the people.” “You can only cheat the people for so long,” he said. “The 2017 general election was a fraud.”

Votes from 96% of polling stations have been counted and the results released by Kenya’s electoral commission show Kenyatta leading with 54.4% of the vote, against Odinga’s 44.8%, a difference of 1.4 million votes. However, Odinga claims his parties own count shows that he is in the lead.

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(Voters wait in line to cast their votes at a polling station in Iloodokilani, Kajiado County.)

The electoral commission has hit back at Odinga claims in a statement by the Chief electoral officer Ezra Chiloba,” I wish to take this opportunity to confirm that our elections management system is secure. There were no external or internal interference to the system at any point before, during or after the voting.”

However, violence has broken out in many areas and according to some sources as many as 5 people have died so far in clashes between Odinga supporters and police. The Kenya government have denied that people have died despite the statement from Nairobi city’s police chief Japheth Koome in which he said that two people were shot dead in the capital Nairobi on Wednesday, claiming they took advantage of the protests to steal. At least one other death was reported by police in another region, a fact the government is yet to acknowledge.

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(President Uhuru Kenyatta casts his vote at the Mutomo primary school polling station in the Gatundu neighbourhood of Nairobi.)

Many people fear a repeat of the violence which erupted after the 2007 elections in which 1200 people were killed and many were displaced. Adding to the issue is the fact that this is also an ethnic conflict as Kenyatta, is a Kikuyu, the ethnic group that has put forward three of the four presidents since Kenya gained its independence from Britain in 1963. While Odinga is an ethnic Luo from the west of the country. The Lou dominated regions have for a long time felt neglected by the central government and is seen as resentful of its apparent exclusion from power.

Observers from the African Union and the European Union along with other international groups issued a joint statement urging all political parties “to use the legally provided channels of dispute resolution in case of any dissatisfaction with the process”, adding that police should “avoid excessive use of force”.

Observers on the ground warn that if either leader called for resistance or violence the people would almost certainly listen. Both these men, as leaders of their country, have a responsibility to act and think carefully before calling on their supporters to act.

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Sources:

“Kenya Erupts into Violence Amid Allegations of Election Fraud” Time, August 2017. http://time.com/4894801/kenya-election-hacking-violence/

“Protest in Kenya follow election hacking claim” Reuters, August 2017. https://www.reuters.com/video/2017/08/09/protests-in-kenya-follow-election-hackin?videoId=372285390

“Kenya election 2017: Commission denies system was hacked” BBC News, August 2017. http://www.bbc.com/news/world-africa-40882268

“Clashes in Kenya after opposition leader’s election fraud claim” The Guardian, August 2017. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2017/aug/09/kenya-presidential-election-raila-odinga-early-results-uhuru-kenyatta

“Protests over election fraud claim turn deadly in Kenya” Al Jazeera, 2017. http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/kenya-police-protesters-clash-poll-fraud-claim-170809081850902.html