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Kenyatta Ahead in Kenya Vote as Opposition Disputes Count

By Jill Craig August 09, 2017

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said Wednesday hackers carried out "massive and extensive" fraud against the election commission's computer system, resulting in what he asserts are fraudulent vote totals showing him trailing well behind President Uhuru Kenyatta.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) website showed at midday Wednesday about 94 percent of ballots had been counted with Kenyatta leading 54 percent to 45 percent in his bid for another term.

IEBC Chariman Wafula Chebukati said he could not yet say whether the commission's systems had been hacked, but that it would investigate.

Odinga read to reporters from a document spelling out his accusations that hackers accessed the IEBC's database during Tuesday's voting and altered the results for not just the presidential race, but also elections for other positions.

"What the IEBC has posted as results on the presidential elections is a complete fraud based on a multiplier that fraudulently gave Uhuru Kenyatta votes that were not cast," Odinga said. "The fraud Jubilee has perpetuated on Kenyans surpasses any level of voter theft in our country's history. This time we caught them."He further called his longtime rival Kenyatta a "fraud."

Rafael Tuju, secretary general of Kenyatta's Jubilee Party, dismissed Odinga's accusations as "disingenuous" and appealed for calm.

"These results are not coming from out of the blue, they are marked by facts, and you cannot claim that results are fake with respect to presidential and you welcome the areas where your governors and your members of parliament have won convincingly."

Kenyatta and Odinga have an extensive history, including facing each other in presidential elections in 2007 and 2013.Odinga alleged vote-tampering after losing in 2013 and challenged the result in court.The 2007 election was followed by violence fueled by ethnic divisions that killed more than 1,000 people.

Shortly after Odinga spoke Wednesday, several hundred protesters in his western stronghold of Kisumu burned tires and clashed with police who fired tear gas.

Election officials have up to a week to announce full results, but they may opt to announce the outcome as soon as possible to alleviate the possibility of violence.

Long lines

Kenyans stood in line for hours Tuesday to cast ballots, facing rain and both cold and hot weather conditions throughout the day.

In addition to choosing between incumbent Kenyatta and challenger Odinga, voters also decided on senators, governors, women's representatives of the national assembly, members of the national assembly, and members of the county assemblies.

Hellen Mazitoh, a 32-year-old voter from the Githogoro slum in Nairobi, waited in line for well over seven hours, but said she isn't complaining.

"Let me say, the election mood is good. People are voting. Once they vote, they are going home. Nothing bad has occurred. Nobody left, people are responding well," said Mazitoh.

Thirty-three-year-old voter Emmanuel Musundi Wamukundi waited for more than four hours at his polling station in Nairobi. He said the lines were a bit disorganized in the beginning, but otherwise, things seemed to be running smoothly.

"I mean, it's patriotism, this is for my country, and I want to be involved in it," said Wamukundi. "I want my voice to be heard and it's the only thing I can do to change things."

The electoral commission said heavy rain hampered voting in three parts of the country – Turkana North, Baringo and Samburu – and helicopters were required to airlift materials and polling officials.

Former U.S. secretary of state John Kerry and former Senegalese prime minister Aminata Touré visited Jamhuri High School in Nairobi as co-leaders of the U.S.-based Carter Center election observation mission. Kerry referenced the long lines he'd seen at polling stations as a sign of the commitment of Kenyan voters.

"It's too early for us to draw any kinds of conclusions so we're not, but obviously given what's happened in the past and given the stakes for the future, this is a very, very important election, and clearly the citizens of Kenya are taking it very, very seriously," said Kerry.

Kenya's electoral commission is using biometric voter identification and electronic vote transmission systems to conduct the elections. The vote is seen as a key test for the commission after voting technology failed during the last polls in 2013, sparking allegations of vote rigging.

Like so many Kenyans, voter Francis Mutiso Matheka is urging peace above all else in these elections.

"I would love to tell fellow Kenyans to vote peacefully," said Matheka. "We need this country, after today, after tomorrow, and this country, it's greater than any one of us."

Also calling for a peaceful outcome Monday was former U.S. president Barack Obama, the son of a native-born Kenyan. Obama issued a statement urging voters in his ancestral homeland to "reject violence and incitement; respect the will of the people; urge security forces to act professionally and neutrally; and work together no matter the outcome."

The winner of the presidential election must receive 50 percent of all votes, and 25 percent or more of votes in at least 25 of Kenya's 47 counties. If neither candidate hits that threshold, a run-off will take place.

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