Kenya opposition claims election system hacked; rejects preliminary results

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga is disputing early results in the country’s presidential election that put his long-standing rival, incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta, ahead.

The election commission’s website showed that with 94% of stations reporting, Kenyatta was leading with 54.4% of the votes to Odinga’s 44.74%. Eight candidates were in the running for the presidency but no other challengers have received more than 0.3% of votes.

Final results from Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) are expected to be released in the coming days — officially, the agency has a week to declare — but it appears Kenyatta, who leads the Jubilee Alliance, is on track for an outright win, which requires one vote more than 50%.

But in a televised news conference on Wednesday morning, Odinga, a 72-year-old former political prisoner, flatly rejected the preliminary results as “fictitious” and “fake” while arguing that the election authority’s systems had been “hacked” to manipulate the results in his rival’s favor.

Odinga, who is running for a fourth time, alleges hackers infiltrated the IEBC systems using the identity of Chris Msando, a top election official who was tortured and murdered a week before the vote.

“What the IEBC has posted as results of the Presidential Elections is a complete fraud based on a multiplier that fraudulently gave Uhuru Kenyatta votes that were not cast,” he said in a series of tweets.

“We have uncovered the fraud. Uhuru must go home. The IEBC must be fully accountable,” he added.

In response to Odinga’s claims, IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati said it appears the opposition’s issues stem from results transmission rather than with the whole election. He reminded voters that the results being displayed online are not final figures.

Kenyan law states that electronic reporting must be double-checked and verified by physical paper forms from polling stations before the IEBC can declare a winner. Chebukati said the voting authority intends to uphold that requirement.

“We set up a system which has carried us through and when Kenyans went to vote, it worked for them, it worked for us — the IEBC,” he said.

“The system is set up to do results transmission but we have had concerns raised and we cannot as a commission ignore those concerns. We want to look at the original forms, verify and at the end of the day, do an audit and those [hacking] questions will be answered.”

Fears of violence
Nairobi remained calm and quiet Wednesday morning, a stark contrast to the droves who turned out in the rain on Tuesday, lining up for hours to cast their ballots.

Tuesday’s election was a peaceful and enthusiastic affair with a huge turnout and a few minor delays and technical issues reported. Several polling stations that were affected by delays were kept open until almost midnight to ensure that all could vote.

But Odinga’s complaints of election irregularities have stoked fears of aggrieved supporters taking to the streets in a scenario reminiscent of 2007’s post-election violence.

More than 1,000 people were killed in months of ethnic violence in the aftermath of the 2007 vote when Odinga — defeated by then-President Mwai Kibaki — also claimed the vote was rigged.

As Odinga cried foul on Wednesday, reports were emerging of pockets of protests in three opposition strongholds. In the Kondele area in Kisumu, a local journalist told CNN that riot police were on the scene as a group of around 500 to 600 youths protest, chanting “Uhuru must go.” A police helicopter was also on patrol in the area and water cannons have been deployed.

Back in Mathare, a slum on the outskirts of Nairobi, an eyewitness said another group of around 40 youths was protesting and described the atmosphere as “tense.” The eyewitness added that police are yet to arrive on scene.

And in the Kibera slum in Nairobi, an eyewitness said, “Tension is high … Kibera is calm but not sure for how long.”

The IEBC and opposition have urged voters to “maintain the peace” while the final results are being tabulated.