Senior Kenyan election officials disown results of presidential election

NAIROBI, Kenya – A planned announcement of the Kenyan presidential election results descended into chaotic scenes on Monday after the deputy chairperson of the election commission and three other commissioners disowned the presidential election results.

“As the commission we have done a good job. But some things need to be put outside there. This is because of the opaque nature [of] how the last phase of the general election has been handled, therefore we cannot take ownership of how the elections has been handled,” Juliana Cherera, the deputy chairperson of the electoral commission told a media briefing at a different venue from where the announcement was to be made.

Diplomats and international election observers were whisked out of the tallying hall where the chairman of the electoral commission was preparing to announce the presidential results.

When calm was restored, deputy president William Ruto was declared winner with 50.5 per cent of the vote, while former prime minister and veteran opposition leader, Raila Odinga, who was backed by outgoing president Uhuru Kenyatta, won 48.8 per cent with all the votes counted.

Odinga — who has stood for election five times and has not yet conceded defeat — is expected to appeal to the Supreme Court. It could be weeks before a new president is sworn in, spurring fears of unrest.

“We have intelligence and reports that the system was penetrated and hacked and that some of the IEBC officials actually committed electoral offences and some of them ought to be arrested if they were not arrested,” Saitabao Ole Kanchory, Odinga’s chief electoral agent, told reporters before the results were released, calling the national tallying centre in Nairobi a “crime scene”.

Ababu Namwamba, a senior adviser to Ruto, said “the pace of the counting has been slow, which has made everybody anxious, but the polls overall have been really transparent.”

Kenya has a history of post-poll violence and slow progress by the electoral commission in tallying Tuesday’s vote has fed fears the election will be disputed, leading to bloody scenes like those that followed presidential polls in 2007 and 2017. – Reuters

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