1. Skip to content
  2. Skip to main menu
  3. Skip to more DW sites

EU Wants Kenya Probe

DPA News Agency (ncy)January 1, 2008

The European Union election observer mission to Kenya demanded an independent inquiry look into accusations of rigged polls. Violence across the country has caused more than 150 deaths in the wake of the vote.

Supporters of Orange Democratic Movement of opposition leader Raila Odinda burn posters of Mwai Kibaki, President of Kenya, in the Kibera slums on the outskirts of Nairobi, Saturday, Dec. 29, 2007
The government said it now had the situation under controlImage: AP

The EU team, the largest international mission monitoring the polls, on Tuesday, Jan. 1, released its preliminary findings of the Kenyan presidential poll, saying the process was marred by "serious inconsistencies and anomalies" in the vote tallies, calling into question the return to power of President Mwai Kibaki for a second term.

"It is vital that an independent investigation is swiftly carried out to verify doubts about the presidential election. The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) must be transparent in this investigation," said chief observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff.

Alexander Graf Lambsdorff speaks with a red Cross staff member in Molo, Kenya
Lambsdorff and his team were critical of the pollImage: picture-alliance/ dpa

Lambsdorff said it was up to Kenyan authorities to decide how to set up such an inquiry.

Defeated opposition candidate Raila Odinga has charged the Dec. 27 vote, which saw him lose by 230,000 ballots, was rigged, and he has demanded a recount.

Election commissioners express doubt

The allegations have sparked outrage amongst Odinga backers, and brutal violence has spread, with machete-wielding supporters looting and rioting and at least 160 people killed since Thursday's vote, local newspaper The Standard reported Tuesday, Jan. 1.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said 145 people had been killed, while some reports put the number at more than 200 and said 73,500 people had been displaced around the country in the unrest. An official from the Nairobi Women's Hospital told reporters that clinics around the country had seen an upsurge of rape victims because of the violence.

Supporters of Raila Odinga chant slogans as they march in Nairobi on Monday, Dec. 31
Odinga and his supporters dispute the voteImage: AP Photo / Sayyid Azim

The Standard also reported four ECK commissioners spoke out about suspicious vote tallies and high voter turnouts in some constituencies and also demanded an investigation into the polls.

"Some of the information received from some of our returning officers now cast doubts on the veracity of the figures," a statement by the four officials said.

The EU mission said its 150 observers were given a vote count of 50,000 for Kibaki at one constituency, but the ECK declared a tally of 75,000 when announcing the official result. At least one more constituency saw a similar discrepancy.

Some EU monitors were turned away at tally stations, with electoral officers claiming they were "too tired" to continue counting the presidential ballots. Others were barred from entering the main counting center in the capital, Nairobi, a breach of the agreement between the EU and the ECK.

Ethnic tensions exposed

The government on Tuesday declared the situation was "now under control," as rioting and bloodshed continued in pockets around the country.

A man runs across the road holding a looted gas cylinder from a shop in Mombasa on Monday
Looting and rioting has harmed Kenya's reputation as a peaceful place in AfricaImage: AP

Odinga has vowed not to back down, and he and his supporters are set to inaugurate a parallel cabinet in a mass rally in Nairobi on Thursday. The event will be accompanied by a heavy police presence.

The violence has exposed ethnic tensions as Odinga's Luo supporters and Kibaki's Kikuyu people -- who have long wielded the levers of power in Kenya -- have been attacking each other.

The clashes and riots, met with tear gas and water cannons from police, mark a disturbing change in the otherwise peaceful East African nation, which had been seen as a beacon of stability in a volatile region.