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Kenya election commission denies poll was marred by fraud

NAIROBI – In legal documents filed to the Supreme Court on Thursday night in response to a petition by opposition leader Raila Odinga, the electoral commission says any inaccuracies in the results “were minimal and occasioned by inadvertent human error and not deliberate and calculated”.

The commission’s response, seen by the Financial Times, also denies that votes were “manipulated, engineered or deliberately distorted, inflated or interfered with”.

“The presidential election was conducted in an impartial, neutral, efficient, accurate and accountable manner,” the document says.

Mr Kenyatta was declared the winner of the August 8 poll with 54 per cent of the vote to Mr Odinga’s 44 per cent, a difference of some 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 attempting for the fourth time to be president, appealed against the result to the Supreme Court. He alleges the results from more than a third of polling stations contained “fatal and irredeemable irregularities”; the commission “deliberately distorted the votes cast” in favour of Mr Kenyatta; and that many of his supporters were intimidated into not voting.

Most legal analysts have said that based on the evidence produced there were inaccuracies in the results and the electoral commission was not as transparent as it might have been, but these failings were not significant enough to have affected the result.

Wachira Maina, a constitutional law expert, also said Mr Odinga would not succeed by alleging he was denied victory by the governing party intimidating people not to vote. “It’s impossible to prove, if it did happen, that all those people would have voted in a particular way,” he said.

Mr Kenyatta also rejected the accusations in his response to the petition. He said his victory was “consequent to the great efforts made to transform the country; delivery of the promises in the [2013 election] manifesto and the inclusive government I have presided over”.

To support his case, Mr Kenyatta said he and William Ruto, his deputy, attended more than 600 rallies during the campaign and that their Jubilee party also triumphed in the legislative and local elections that were held simultaneously with the presidential ballot.

“The deputy president and I made significant inroads in areas hitherto regarded as opposition zones,” he said in his response.

The president also disparaged Mr Odinga for alleging he and Mr Ruto are “computer generated leaders”, who owe their victory to manipulation of the commission’s tallying systems. “The electoral victory was effected by the Kenyan voters,” he said.

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. After the 2013 poll, Mr Odinga again appealed to the Supreme Court, claiming the election was rigged, but his petition was rejected.

The Supreme Court is due to start hearing the case this weekend and, according to the constitution, has to deliver its judgment by September 1.

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