Kenya election spills blood, as protests erupt across the East African nation contesting election results.
At least four have been killed on the streets of Kenya, with police officers and protesters locked in violent clashes. Opposition leader and presidential candidate Raila Odinga’s claims that the Kenya election was “hacked” in favor of the President Uhuru Kenyatta sparked massive protests across the nation, which still remembers the bloodshed of the 2007 election, where more than 1,200 Kenyans died and more than 600,000 were displaced.
The 2017 election vote stirs horrendous memories in the nation, which is about to elect Kenyatta, the same man who was indicted by the International Criminal Court for his alleged role in the deadly events a decade ago. The case was eventually dropped due to lack of evidence after key witnesses had either disappeared or suddenly died.
The Kenya election today is once again revolving around conspiracy theories, and once again President Kenyatta is in the center of them.
‘Massive’ Fraud in Kenya Election, As Kenyans Fear the Worst is Ahead
With only four polling stations remaining to declare Kenya election results, so far Kenyatta wins by a landslide with over 54% against Odinga’s 44%, giving the sitting president a margin of 1.5 million votes with 95.3% of results in. The opposition leader, who has run for Kenyan president three times and lost each time, has accused his opponent of a “massive” fraud designed to win the election.
Odinga’s statements have sparked nation-wide protests – mostly in opposition strongholds in Kisumu, Mombasa and Nairobi – with at least four people killed in violent clashes with pro-government police. As Kenyans fear history could repeat itself – and the Kenya election 2017 could bring hundreds or thousands of deaths – Kenyatta is hoping for a second term in office.
Is There a Link Between Electoral Official Tortured to Death and the Election?
Some 180,000 security officers are on duty across East Africa’s arguably most stable democracy during the Kenya election 2017, though there seems to be no antidote to prevent outbreaks of violence as Odinga is claiming the results were “hacked” in favor of his long-time rival.
After the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) published provisional results of the presidential election, Odinga was quick to reject the results, claiming that the IEBC computer system had been hacked to install an “algorithm” that allowed the hackers to maintain an 11% lead in favor of the President.
The opposition presidential leader went on to allege that the hackers had penetrated the electoral commission’s IT system by using the identify of its IT manager, Chris Msando, who was found strangled and tortured to death just a week prior to the Kenya election.
Could Kenya Election 2017 Be Rigged?
Kenya’s election chief Wafula Chebukati appeared to have rejected Odinga’s link between the mysterious death of the senior election official and the alleged hacking of electoral servers. Addressing reporters at the Bomas of Kenya on Wednesday, Chebukati said he was confident in the credibility of the results, but added that the opposition’s claims would be investigated.
Odinga’s rejection of the Kenya election results, which put President Kenyatta in a strong lead with over 54% votes (a candidate requires 50% plus one vote for first-round victory), stems from his party’s own assessment that has predicted his victory over the sitting president.
Kenya Election 2017 Starting to Resemble the Bloody 2007 Crisis
Odinga’s conspiracy theory about the Kenya election could give birth to even more violence on the streets, as – if proven by the International Criminal Court – it would not be the first time President Kenyatta is being indicted of wrongdoings on his presidential campaign trail.
In 2007, the court held then-candidate Kenyatta and his running-mate William Ruto accountable for their alleged role in the bloody Kenyan crisis that saw the deaths of an estimated between 800 and 1,500 Kenyan people.
Similarly to 2017, a decade ago, Odinga’s rejection of the Kenya election result, which placed his rival Mwai Kibaki (Kenyatta endorsed him and was later appointed as Minister for Local Government in Kibaki’s government) ahead by a little more than 2%, sparked riots and retaliation by security forces that spiraled out of control. In what is called Kenya’s deadliest crisis in decades, up to 1,500 people were killed in riots and the ensuing ethnic violence.
With Kenyans fearing the 2017 Kenya election could turn into the same decade-old bloodshed, the East African nation is entering a state of heightened tension. The country – marred by elections that oftentimes spill the blood of Kenyan people – awaits the final results to come from Forms 34A and B from polling stations, handwritten results that are submitted to the electoral commission’s office.
Two Scenarios How Kenyan Crisis Could Unfold
Amid Odinga’s claims that the hackers had manipulated the Kenya election in favor for his rival as well as the conspiracy theory that the hackers used the identity of the murdered electoral official, anti-Kenyatta protesters, who are accusing the President in the power grab, will most likely not give up easily.
There are two ways the election crisis could unfold, preventing Kenyatta from getting his first-round victory: (1) the opposition could contest the results through the court by proving that the election was hacked or that the President is responsible for the death of IT manager Msando, or (2) they could take it to the streets and risk triggering a crisis similar to the deadly 2007 one.
Kenyatta, 55, is the son Kenya’s founding father and first president Jomo Kenyatta. In 2013, Kenyatta won the election by getting a narrow lead over Odinga, his long-time political rival. The heated political rivalry between the two can trace its roots to past generations, as their fathers were key political opponents in the last century.
Although Kenya is no stranger to having to put up with rigged elections, the 2017 Kenya election could bring major changes for the nation where nearly 50% of all registered voters were under 35 during Tuesday’s vote. The youth could take it to the streets and demand Kenyatta’s resignation, similar to what Ukrainians did back in 2013 and Venezuelans are doing now.