Tension continues in Kenya pending the final results of the presidential election in which the outgoing Uhuru Kenyatta leads, according to provisional results rejected by opponent Raila Odinga, resulting in violence killing four people.
In the aftermath of the election, sometimes violent clashes broke out in customary opposition fiefs of such incidents during an election period, plunging into anxiety a nation that remembers too well the violence that followed the presidential election 2007 (1,100 deaths and more than 600,000 displaced).
In the Mathare slum, in Nairobi, police fired on real ball Wednesday, 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 police, questioned about a possible attack by Somali Islamist shebab, who are very active in the area.
Allegations of fraud
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, 55, of 54.31% of the votes, against 44.81% for Raila Odinga, 72, out of a total of 14.7 million recorded votes.
The final results will be published after authentication of the minutes of the offices whose scans have been sent electronically. The process could take several days. However, the IEBC has a legal obligation to publish the results no later than 7 days after the election.
“It is a fraud of monumental gravity, there has been no election,” said Raila Odinga.
According to him, hackers have “manipulated” the system of counting of the votes thanks to the codes of access of a computer chief of the Electoral Commission murdered a little more than a week ago.
Allegations denied Wednesday evening by the IEBC. “Our election management system is secure, and there has been no internal or external interference in our system at any time,” said Ezra Chiloba, the executive director of the commission.
Odinga, along with many international election observers, also called the Kenyans calm. But he also added: “I do not control the people.”
“It is important that the Kenyan leaders take their responsibilities in the coming days so that the people can have confidence in the work carried out on the (electoral) process, which must be thoughtful, careful and respectful,” said the former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who heads the Electoral Observation Mission of the NGO Carter Center.
In Kisumu (west), one of the opposition strongholds, hundreds of demonstrators erected barricades and burnt tires on Wednesday, before being dispersed by tear gas canisters and warning shots. “Something is simmering,” said one of them Steven Okeda, a 37-year-old schoolteacher. “Uhuru Kenyatta stole the election and we will not accept it.”
A candidate for the fourth time in the presidential election, Odinga had already shouted in fraud in 2007. Kenya then plunged into two months of politico-ethnic violence and police repression. In 2013, he also challenged his defeat, finally validated by the Supreme Court.
Historical political rivalry
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.
The two men are long-standing political rivals. Raila’s father, Jaramogi Oginga Odinga, briefly occupied the post of vice-president. But he was especially the biggest loser of the post-independence struggle for power, to the benefit of the first head of state Jomo Kenyatta, Uhuru’s father.
According to Murithi Mutiga of the International Crisis Group (ICG), this “crazy dynastic competition makes everyone irrational”.