Kenya's election commission prepared to release final results as the opposition claimed victory in presidential elections. Raila Odinga has alleged massive fraud as observers praised a credible voting process.
Kenya's election commission was expected to release final results on Friday after the National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition on Thursday claimed massive fraud was behind preliminary results that placed their candidate Raila Odinga far behind incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
Kenya's electoral commission (IEBC) on Thursday accused the opposition of falsifying documents that supposedly proved Odinga, had won the presidential run-off.
The commission's rebuttal came after an opposition official said he had information from "confidential sources" showing that Odinga had defeated Kenyatta by just under 300,000 votes.
Musalia Mudavadi claimed to have gathered "complete data" from the election commission indicating "the actual presidential election results contained in their database." He also said there had been a "serious attempt to try to either doctor or alter the final results."
Mudavadi's claims echoed similar accusations tabled by Odinga on Wednesday when he described the counting process as a "sham" and said hackers had broken into the tallying systems and interfered with the results.
The tally presented by Mudavadi contradicted the election commission's provisional result on Thursday, which showed Kenyatta leading with around 54 percent of the vote, ahead of Odinga on 45 percent – a lead of around 1.4 million with 99 percent of polling stations reported.
The IEBC has insisted that its systems have not been hacked, while its chairman, Wafula Chebukati, on Thursday said Mudavadi's printout was riddled with arithmetic errors and came from a Microsoft database while the commission's systems run on Oracle.
Chebukati also dismissed the opposition's call that Odinga be declared the winner, saying the final result will only be announced once all the forms from all constituencies had arrived at the tallying center in Nairobi and been validated. That process is not expected to be completed before Friday afternoon.
Kenya's electoral commission wins international backing
A team of international observers – made up of officials from the European Union, African Union the Commonwealth and the Carter Center – commended the work of the electoral mission.
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who is leading a group from the Carter Center, an international democracy promotion group led by former President Jimmy Carter, told journalists: "We believe the IEBC put in place a detailed, transparent process of voting, counting, reporting and securing the vote, all of which lends significant credibility and accountability."
Meanwhile, head of the EU mission Marietje Schaake said IEBC officials were "working around the clock. It's important they have the time to do these procedures well."
A country on edge
Nevertheless, the opposition's declaration of victory prompted groups of Odinga supporters to break into celebration in small pockets across Kenya, once again sparking fear that clashes between police and opposition supporters could break out.
On Wednesday, at least three people were shot and killed in in violent confrontations across the country. On Thursday, however, the country remained calm for the most part, despite reports of clashes in the Nairobi slum of Kawangware and in Garissa county.
Those clashes have sent jitters through the country, with many fearing a repeat of the election-related violence that erupted after the election in late December 2007. That year, following a poll that was reportedly full of irregularities, Odinga's loss sparked deadly ethnopolitical violence, leaving some 1,100 people dead and 600,000 displaced.
Odinga also ran as the opposition candidate in the 2013 election. Following his defeat, he claimed that votes were stolen from him. He even took his protests before the courts before ultimately accepting the loss.
In an interview with broadcaster CNN on Thursday, Odinga denounced this year's clashes.
"We do not want to see any violence in Kenya," he said. "We know the consequences of what happened in 2008 and we don't want to see a repeat of that."
However, denying he would have any role in sparking any politically motivated violence, the veteran opposition leader said: "I don't control anybody. People want to see justice."
dm/sms (AP, AFP, Reuters)