Political Crisis Grips Kenya as Opposition Denounces Vote ResultBy and
Opposition alliance calls vote-count process a ‘charade’
Electoral authority expected to announce Kenyatta victory
Kenya plunged into a political crisis after the opposition rejected what it said were plans by the electoral commission to declare President Uhuru Kenyatta the victor in Tuesday’s election, calling it a “charade.”
A five-party alliance backing opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga said the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission was preparing to announce Kenyatta’s victory Friday even after it raised concerns about “several serious irregularities and anomalies” over the vote-count process. The coalition said Odinga, 72, won the election and said his supporters wouldn’t accept the result. Kenyatta was due to address the East African nation later Friday.
“I can tell you, Kenyans always rise up,” Senator James Orengo, the alliance’s deputy chief election agent, told reporters in Nairobi, the capital. “The resilience of Kenyans to deal with impunity, to deal with violation of their rights, every time those rights have been trampled upon, they’ve always risen up.”
The opposition’s dispute over the results sets the stage for a repeat of the election-related violence that has stalked East Africa’s biggest economy since Kenya became a multiparty democracy in 1991. In the worst outbreak, ethnic clashes left at least 1,100 people dead after a disputed 2007 vote. Odinga and Kenyatta, 55, are vying to lead a country that’s the world’s largest exporter of black tea and a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and General Electric Co.
“There are so many questions unanswered, it’s very easy to come to a conclusion that there is mischief going on,” said Dismas Mokua, an analyst at Nairobi-based risk advisory firm Trintari. “The failure to announce results at the constituency centers raises so many questions about transparency.”
Financial markets have shrugged off the prospects of a disputed result, with the FTSE NSE Kenya 25 Index of stocks advancing for a fourth straight day on Friday. The yield on the nation’s Eurobonds rose 4 basis points to 6.35 percent, while the shilling was little changed.
The normally bustling streets of Nairobi, the business hub, have been largely deserted since election day as residents stayed home bracing for trouble and security forces deployed in the city center.
“Kenya is at a standstill,” Kiprono Kittony, chairman of the Kenya National Chamber of Commerce & Industry, said by phone on Friday. “We are hoping there will be a conclusion to this today and for people to be able to go back and start earning their livelihoods because this era of suspense is very, very devastating economically.”
With preliminary results tallied from all but 341 of the nation’s 40,883 polling stations, Kenyatta has 8.17 million votes, compared with 6.76 million for Odinga, according to the IEBC’s website. Candidates need a simple majority along with a quarter of the votes in half of Kenya’s 47 counties to secure victory.
Odinga described the preliminary results as “fake” and said hackers gained access to the election computer system by using the identity of the commission’s technology manager who was murdered in late July. IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati said on Thursday that hackers tried and failed to breach the voting system.
“We want to tell Chebukati to stop cooking results,” Babu Owino, a member of Odinga’s coalition, told reporters on Friday. “We will do everything humanly possible to ensure that Raila is sworn in.”
Odinga’s main support bases include the slums around Nairobi and the western region bordering on Lake Victoria -- both areas where violence occurred after the disputed 2007 vote -- along with the coastal region around the main port of Mombasa.
— With assistance by Bella Genga, Michael Cohen, and Helen Nyambura-Mwaura