The results of the presidential election were announced on Friday evening, August 11, with Uhuru Kenyatta receiving 8,009,175 votes or 54.3% to Raila Odinga’s 6,608,405 votes or 44.8%. Raila then announced a general strike for Monday, August 14, to protest the election. He claimed without substantiation that he had won by over a million votes. Fortunately the strike threat was a bust. Few if any people participated. Even the out-going Governor of Nairobi and the Governor-elect of Kisumu, both members of Raila’s ODM party, told people to return to work. The whole week of the election had put the country on economic hold. Stores were out of goods, factories and offices did not function so people needed to get back to work.
When this failed, the opposition NASA coalition reassessed and on Wednesday announced their next move – taking the election to the Supreme Court. After the 2013 election, Raila had taken the IEBC to court and lost badly – the evidence the opposition presented was thrown out on a technicality (being submitted a day late) and not considered. Moreover every decision by the seven member Supreme Court was against the opposition and unanimous!
For example, to be elected president, the winning candidate must win 50% +1 of the votes. In 2013 Uhuru Kenyatta won with slightly over 50% of the “valid” votes. The rejected votes were not added to the total of the votes cast. If they were, then Uhuru would have had less than 50% of the vote and there would have had to be a run-off election. The Supreme Court ruled to use only the percentage on the “valid” votes, thus blocking the need for a run-off. (This has become an issue again for this election when an incredibly high 401,003 or 2.5% of the votes for president were rejected. Why so many rejected ballots?) No wonder the opposition felt that the court case was “fixed” and was reluctant to initiative another court case. On the other hand, 3 or 4 of the 2013 judges are on the Supreme Court again this time. NASA was under great pressure by Kenyans and the international community to pursue regress through the courts.
Shortly after NASA announced that they would go to court, the government agency responsible for non-government organizations, suspended two major organizations, Africa Centre for Open Governance (AfriCOG) and the Kenya Human Rights Commission, that had observed the election closely and would present evidence to support NASA’s claims, but if outlawed would be unable to participant. Immediately the police and the tax authority raided AfriCOG’s office, but were stopped when its lawyers realized that the search warrant was defective and illegal. This obvious suppression resulted in a great hue and cry from Kenyans and the international community. As a result the acting Minister of the Interior suspended the order to shut down these organizations for 90 days, thus allowing them to participate in the election court case.
Unlike the many international organizations that come for the election, stay a short while, give a clean bill of health, and leave, AfriCOG is a permanent organization in Kenya and monitors the whole process. In this election AfriCOG had 1400 independent observers in various polling stations around the country. As part of a broad coalition of NGOs covering the election, called “Kura Yangu Sauti Yangu” (Our Vote, Our Voice), “its initial conclusions are alarming.” For one example, “the presidential ‘results’ declared by the IEBC chair are different from those on the IEBC’s portal in every county. Worse, the presidential ‘results’ contained in the Forms 34A [the list of the totals from each polling station] do not match the ‘results’ in the Forms 34B [the combined totals sent to the national tallying center in Nairobi] in no less than 255 [out of 290] constituencies.”
One issue that has grabbed me as important is the fact that the IEBC printed 1.2 million more presidential ballots than needed. NASA vigorously complained to no effect. The results showed that 482,202 people chose to vote for the president but did not cast a ballot for governors. This is unlikely. When the voter goes into the polling station, he/she is give six ballots and after marking them, a polling clerk assists the voter to put the six ballots into the appropriate boxes. It is illegal to walk out of the polling station with ballots. There is no way almost a half a million people could have walked out with their governor ballot in hand after depositing their presidential ballot. This is particularly suspect when there was a lot of interest and competition for the office of governor. NASA claims that their agents around Mt Kenya (Uhuru’s stronghold where he was winning 99% of the votes) noted and complained that voters were being given two or three presidential ballots. The IEBC portal indicates that in Kirinyaga county, for instance, 296,392 more people voted for President than for Senator and in Embu, 200,021 more people voted for President than Senator. When the agents for the NASA parties complained, they were kicked out of the polling stations. When they then refused to sign as agents to certify the voting results, IEBC claimed that this didn’t make any difference and the votes would be counted.
There are a number of additional issues, some also significant and other technical, but what I have given in this report, indicates the magnitude of the issues at hand.
I think that NASA’s challenge to annul this election and have another presidential election within sixty days is unlikely to succeed. Even if it did succeed, the IEBC and the same officials would be conducting the new election and the same “tricks” could easily happen again. Nonetheless I think it was important for NASA to go to court and show whatever evidence they have that the August 8 election was improperly run. In the final analysis, this election, like the 2007 and 2012 elections, is going to be considered suspect.
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From 1998 to 2016, David Zarembka was the Coordinator of the African Great Lakes Initiative of the Friends Peace Teams. He continues his peacemaking work in East Africa with Transforming Communities for Social Change (TCSC) and Friends Church Peace Team (FCPT). He has been involved with East and Central Africa since 1964 when he taught Rwandan refugees in Tanzania. David is married to Gladys Kamonya and lives in western Kenya. David is the author of A Peace of Africa: Reflections on Life in the Great Lakes Region.
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