Kenyan Election Fiasco

The Kenyan elections have turned out to be quite a fiasco and a tragic one at that. The problems started when it looked as though the opposition leader would win, then that win dissipated.

As the Telegraph initially reported
: At noon yesterday, the electoral commission gave the challenger, Raila Odinga, a four per cent lead over the incumbent, Mwai Kibaki, after results from three-quarters of the 210 constituencies. But almost 48 hours after polls had closed, hold-ups to the remaining 51 counts drew sharp criticism. Reuters noted that: Kenyan election officials called a halt to vote tallies on Saturday, leaving the result of a cliff-hanger presidential vote in the balance. Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) officials told journalists to come back on Sunday for further tallies. With 86 percent of constituency results in, President Mwai Kibaki and opposition leader Raila Odinga were neck-and-neck.

Such delays of often viewed as problematic because they give time for shenanigans to occur. And election observers suggest that vote counting shenanigans likely did occur. As the New York Times reported:

It had been predicted that this election would be close, and the final results had Mr. Kibaki winning by a sliver, 46 to 44 percent. But that gap may have included thousands of invalid votes. The European Union said its observers in one constituency last week witnessed election officials announce that President Kibaki had won 50,145 votes, but on Sunday the election commission increased those same results to 75,261 votes.

“The election commission has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process,” said Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, the chief European observer. One Western ambassador said that Western diplomats tried for hours on Sunday to persuade the election commission to do a recount of the vote figures using original results but that the commission refused. “This was rigged,” the ambassador said.

The election commission acknowledged that there were irregularities but said that it was not their job to address them. The opposition, said the chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, “can goNew York Times to the courts.” The opposition has not indicated whether it would contest the results in Kenya’s courts, which are notoriously slow and corrupt.

As the New York Times, NPR, and others reported today, the violence in Kenya between supporters and opponents of the president have become fierce. Numerous people died today in clashes, including 300 people in a church.