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Kenya’s Electoral Commission: 'We Are Now in the Final Stretch'

  • Jill Craig

A supporter of Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga carries a banner and shouts slogans as others run along a street in Humura neighbourhood, in Nairobi, Kenya August 10, 2017.

Voters in Kenya are awaiting the announcement Friday of the winner of Tuesday’s presidential election that pitted incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga.

On Thursday, election officials were waiting to receive about 170 forms from the country’s 290 constituencies and about 1,000 forms from the 40,883 polling stations.

The chairman of Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, Wafula Chebukati, said Thursday “we are now in the final stretch.”

"All presidential results from returning officers will reach the national tallying center by 12 p.m. tomorrow, that is, 11th of August,” said Chebukati.

The expectation is that the announcement of the winner will be made soon thereafter.

Provisional tallies released by the electoral commission so far show Kenyatta with a nine-point lead on Odinga.

Opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 9, 2017.
Opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga addresses a news conference in Nairobi, Kenya, Aug. 9, 2017.

Opposition cries foul

The opposition is rejecting those results as fraudulent, however, saying the electoral commission’s computer networks were hacked. On Thursday, the electoral commission chief confirmed that there was an attempt to hack the system after the vote, but he said that attempt failed.

The opposition says its calculations show Odinga beating Kenyatta by a margin of more than 600,000 votes. The leader of the opposition NASA coalition, Musalia Mudavadi, spoke to reporters Thursday.

“We demand that the IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission] chairperson announce the presidential election results forthwith and declare the right honorable Raila Amolo Odinga and his excellency Stephen Kalonzo Musyoka as the duly elected president and deputy president of the republic of Kenya, respectively,” said Mudavadi.

Tires burn on a road in Nairobi's Kibera slum August 10, 2017, during protests over preliminary presidential election results that pitted incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga. (J. Craig/VOA)
Tires burn on a road in Nairobi's Kibera slum August 10, 2017, during protests over preliminary presidential election results that pitted incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta against opposition leader Raila Odinga. (J. Craig/VOA)

Appeals for calm

Meanwhile, International election observers Thursday called for restraint as Kenyans await the announcement of the official results from the nationwide polls.

Former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry led the election observation mission for the U.S.-based Carter Center, alongside former Senegalese Prime Minister Aminata Toure.

Kerry urged Kenyans to follow due process in challenging any results, including the allegations of hacking.

There have been pockets of unrest in the country, like in western Kenya’s Kisumu, as well as Mathare and Kibera slums in Nairobi, where burned tires have been smoldering in the road since Wednesday.

But 37 year-old Kibera resident George Omondi Otieno says that no matter the outcome, people need to resist violence.

“Even if I am celebrating, let me celebrate in a way that will not provoke the other person because if I celebrate in a way that provokes another person, that escalates that feeling of people fighting of which we don’t want,” said Otieno.

And as the electoral commission finalizes its work, the country continues to wait.

Lenny Ruvaga contributed to this report.

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