Four people were killed Wednesday in Kenya in two separate incidents after opposition opponent Raila Odinga rejected the provisional results of the presidential election giving the outgoing Uhuru Kenyatta largely in the lead.
In the aftermath of the election, police fired tear gas grenades against hundreds of demonstrators gathered in opposition fiefdoms customary for this kind of clashes during an election period, particularly in Kisumu (west).
But in the Mathare slum, in Nairobi, the police also fired bullets, killing at least two people.
The chief of police in Nairobi assured that they had tried to attack police officers “with machetes”. An anonymous policeman said they were part of a demonstration group, where robbers would take advantage of the chaos.
In the county of Tana River (southeast), men armed with knives attacked a polling station where counting was still ongoing. Two of them were killed by the police. “We have not yet established the motive,” said Larry Kieng, regional chief of the police, questioned about a possible attack by Somali Islamist Shebab, very active in the area.
The electoral commission (IEBC) published on Wednesday evening the results transmitted electronically by nearly 97% of the polling stations, crediting the outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta of 54.31% of the votes, against 44.81% for Raila Odinga, on a Total of 14.7 million recorded votes. These preliminary results have yet to be validated on the basis of the polling station reports.
“It is a fraud of monumental gravity, there has been no election,” said Raila Odinga. These accusations, combined with the demonstrations, re-emerge the specter of the violence of the 2007 presidential election.
According to Mr. Kenyatta’s rival, hackers have “manipulated” the voice counting system thanks to the access codes of a computer chief of the Electoral Commission murdered a little more than a week before.
These allegations were however denied in the evening by the IEBC. “Our system of elections management is secure. There has been no internal or external interference in our system at any time before, during or after the vote,” said Ezra Chiloba, Executive Director of the Commission.
Odinga also called the Kenyans calm before adding, “I do not control the people.”
Barricades and burnt tires
IEBC President Wafula Chebukati stressed that the collection of original copies of the minutes of each polling station for publication of the final results could take several days.
Meanwhile, in Kisumu (west), one of the opposition strongholds, hundreds of Mr. Odinga’s supporters erected barricades and burned tires. “If Raila is not the president, we can not have peace,” vituperated one of them before the tear gas of the police did not disperse the crowd.
In Nairobi, anti-riot police, deployed in several slums, intervened in Mathare and Huruma, in the north-east of the capital.
International observation missions, including those of the European Union and the African Union, called in a joint statement “all Kenyan citizens to remain committed to peace and the integrity of the electoral process.”
Mr. Odinga, a fourth-time candidate in the presidential election, had been shouting fraud in 2007 at the announcement of President Mwai Kibaki’s re-election. Kenya then plunged into two months of politico-ethnic violence and police repression with 1,100 deaths and more than 600,000 displaced.
In 2013, he also challenged the result, ultimately validated by the Supreme Court.
Upstream of the election, with the unprecedented deployment of more than 150,000 security forces, many observers had expressed fears of unrest in announcing the results. The 2017 campaign was acrimonious, the opposition accusing the authorities of preparing fraud.
However, voting was smooth on Tuesday in most of the 41,000 offices. Despite some localized problems, the biometric voter identification system worked, unlike four years earlier.
The approximately 19.6 million Kenyan voters were also to elect their deputies, governors, senators, local elected representatives and women’s representatives to the Assembly.
Voting in Kenya is more about feelings of ethnicity than about programs, and MM. Kenyatta (a Kikuyu) and Odinga (a Luo) had set up two powerful electoral alliances.
Mr. Kenyatta, 55, and his vice-president William Ruto (a Kalenjin) had highlighted their economic performance, including infrastructure development. Raila Odinga denigrated this balance sheet, posing as a guarantee of a better shared economic growth.