Supporters of Kenyan presidential candidate Raila Odinga have called for vote counting in this week's presidential election to be halted after numerous claims of vote rigging, fraud, and missing ballots. Early returns have shown Odinga's main opponent, Uhuru Kenyatta, with a strong lead, but as the counting process drags on complaints about the vote's integrity are growing. Odinga's running mate, Kalonzo Musyoka (who is also the sitting vice-president), called for the count to be stopped and re-started, saying at a press conference that "We have evidence the results we are receiving have been doctored."
Many Kenyans following the election online were upset at Western news organizations (including this one) for focusing on concerns about violence and for seeming to hand the election to Kenyatta prematurely. For his part, despite leading the official tally Kenyatta himself complained about interference from British election observers.
Despite the protests, Odinga's coalition is being very careful to avoid a repeat of 2007, when the dispute over the last presidential election ended in waves of ethnic violence. Odinga lost that vote under highly questionable circumstances, too, and supporters in some areas took to the streets in massive protests that escalated into violent clashes with and reprisals from police and political opponents. (Both Kenyatta and his running mate have been brought before the International Criminal Court for their alleged role in some of the massacres.) A power-sharing agreement was eventually reached that left Odinga's opponent as president, but a final report on the election ruled that it was so dirty we will never know who actually won.
This time around, Musyoka was quick to point out that the formal complaints are "not a call to mass action" and they will attempt to resolve the crisis through the system. They are contemplating asking for a court order to halt the ballot counting and possibly requesting a—stop us if you've heard this one before—district-by-district hand recount of all the original ballots. Because election rules requite the winner to get at least 50 percent of the votes cast, a run-off election later this year is also a possibility.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
We want to hear what you think about this article. Submit a letter to the editor or write to email@example.com.