Kenya opposition outlines vote-rigging case ahead of court battle

by Reuters

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Photo: Kenya's opposition and Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (Cord) leader Raila Odinga

NAIROBI – Kenya’s opposition has alleged that results from more than a third of polling stations in this month’s presidential election contained “fatal and irredeemable irregularities” as it seeks to overturn President Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory.

In legal documents filed to the Supreme Court, the National Super Alliance (Nasa) also said the electoral commission “selectively manipulated, engineered and/or deliberately distorted the votes cast” to deny Raila Odinga, the opposition leader, hundreds of thousands of votes.

Nasa last week decided to contest the election result in court after Mr Kenyatta won 54 per cent of the vote to Mr Odinga’s 44 per cent, a difference of 1.4m votes. Independent monitors’ parallel tallies recorded a similar result to the electoral commission based on a representative sample of almost 2,000 polling stations.

But Mr Odinga, who was making his fourth bid for the presidency, insists there was massive rigging in the August 8 poll. He first alleged the electoral commission’s computer system was hacked and then that the commission falsified results.

The 25,000 pages of court documents filed over the weekend and seen by the Financial Times are the first evidence put forward by the opposition to support his claims. The appeal is based on analysis of the results forms from the almost 41,000 polling stations and 290 parliamentary constituencies, which aggregated the polling station results.

These “ought to have been accurate, legitimate and verifiable across the country [but] are demonstrably contradictory, defective and bear fatal irregularities affecting 14,078 polling stations”, the opposition petition states.

Kenya, east Africa’s dominant economy, has a history of disputed elections. Politically motivated violence after a flawed poll in 2007, which Mr Odinga lost, left some 1,200 people dead and 600,000 homeless. Mr Odinga also appealed to the Supreme Court as claiming the last election in 2013 was rigged, but his petition was rejected.

Nasa alleges that irregularities at last month’s election include the same officials signing more than one results form, the same writing being used on multiple forms, forms not being stamped and the manipulation of the rejected and spoilt vote tallies.

The commission also had not made available to the opposition results forms from 5,015 polling stations before the deadline to file an appeal, the court documents say.

The accompanying affidavits include one from Mohamud Ibrahim, who says he was appointed to be the presiding officer at a primary school in Mandera North constituency. Mr Ibrahim alleges that on the day before the election, 70 officials, including himself, were replaced “for unexplained reasons”. “The following day, elections proceeded at various polling stations conducted by strangers . . . who had not been trained and not taken an oath of secrecy,” he says.

Another affidavit, from George Kegoro, the executive director of the Kenya Human Rights Commission, claims that in several prisons the turnout was more than 150 per cent of the number of registered voters.

The electoral commission, its chairman and Mr Kenyatta have until the end of the week to respond to the petition. The case is expected to start on Saturday and, according to the constitution, the seven judges have to deliver their verdict by September 1.

Andrew Limo, the electoral commission’s spokesman, admitted last week there were anomalies with the results forms from almost 2,000 polling stations but said these were insignificant and did not affect the result.

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