Kenya Election Body Rejects Recount as Kenyatta Lead NarrowsJohnstone Ole Turana
Uhuru Kenyatta, facing charges of crimes against humanity, saw his lead in Kenya’s presidential vote narrow, after the electoral body rejected his opponent’s call for a recount because of flaws and alleged manipulation.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission found no cases where votes cast exceeded the number of registered voters, as Prime Minister Raila Odinga’s Coalition for Reform and Democracy alleged yesterday, Chairman Issack Hassan said. Kenyatta, a deputy prime minister, received 4.42 million votes to Odinga’s 3.94 million out of the ballots declared from 68 percent of constituencies, according to the commission.
“With the rigorous verification in place, there is no room to doctor the results whatsoever by any election official,” Hassan told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. “We cannot stop tallying. This is a legal process.”
Accusations by Odinga that he was robbed of victory in the last presidential election in December 2007 sparked two months of clashes that left more than 1,100 people dead and another 350,000 homeless. The unrest curbed growth in East Africa’s largest economy to 1.5 percent in 2008 from 7 percent a year earlier and disrupted key trade routes for landlocked neighbors including Uganda, Rwanda and Burundi.
Kalonzo Musyoka, Odinga’s running mate and joint leader of CORD, said his party wants ballots from the March 4 election to be recounted.
“We have evidence that results we have been receiving have actually been doctored,” Musyoka told reporters yesterday, without providing specific details. “It is not a call to mass action. We are committed as a coalition to the principle of the rule of law.”
The election is seen as a test of stability for Kenya, which is the regional hub for companies including General Electric Co., Google Inc., Pfizer Inc. and Huawei Technology Co. It may become an oil producer after Tullow Oil Plc discovered the first crude deposits a year ago.
The Nairobi Securities Exchange has attracted foreign investors seeking growth. Outside investors traded almost half the shares in 2012 compared with about 10 percent in 2007.
Shares on the NSE gained for a seventh day, extending the All Share Index’s advance to 16 percent this year, the second-best performance in sub-Saharan Africa, after Ghana. The International Monetary Fund says the economy may expand as much as 6 percent if peace prevails, compared with an estimated 5 percent in 2012. The shilling gained 0.6 percent to 86.25 per dollar yesterday.
The electoral commission’s announcement of provisional presidential results, which were to be sent electronically from polling stations, stopped after the system failed. The IEBC opted to move ahead with its final tally, which by law requires the physical presentation of constituency returns in Nairobi.
Musyoka cited the failure of electronic voter-identification devices, the collapse of the real-time results system and the electoral commission’s refusal to allow CORD officials to verify results at the tallying center in Nairobi as “issues of grave concern to us.”
“The responsibility falls squarely with the IEBC,” Musyoka said. CORD officials are “leaving our options open,” he said when asked whether the coalition would take its complaints to Kenya’s courts.
Kenyatta’s Jubilee coalition doesn’t have “any major concerns so far” as it scrutinizes the results, Njee Muturi, an adviser to Kenyatta, said by phone. “We will look at legal avenues if we feel the system has been compromised.”
If no presidential candidate gets more than half the national votes and 25 percent of ballots cast in 24 out of 47 counties, the top two will advance to a runoff in April.
Odinga and Kenyatta have proposed similar plans to invest in expanding Kenya’s road network, electricity supplies and agricultural production to accelerate economic growth and create 1 million new jobs a year.
Kenyatta and his running mate William Ruto face crimes against humanity charges at the International Criminal Court for ordering and financing the 2007-08 clashes, when they were in opposite political camps.
Both deny the charges and have said they can govern the country while fighting to clear their names. The court yesterday postponed Kenyatta’s trial until July 9, and is considering a similar request from Ruto, whose trial is scheduled to start in April.
While the commission by law has until March 11 to declare a new president, it may be able to make the announcement today, Hassan said.
Aside from the president, voters chose 290 lawmakers as well as governors, women’s representatives and senators for 47 counties and 1,450 delegates for county assemblies at the March 4 vote. Kenya enacted a constitution in 2010 that created a devolved government to help empower marginalized communities.