Nairobi (AFP) – Kenya’s opposition demanded Thursday that its candidate Raila Odinga be declared president, rejecting results that showed him trailing incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta in a fraught election that has sent jitters through the east African nation.
Celebrations erupted in opposition strongholds that have also seen angry protests over Odinga’s rigging claims, which sparked a gloomy sense of deja vu in a country that witnessed disputed polls in 2007 and 2013.
Britain and the US joined foreign observer missions from the European Union, African Union, Commonwealth and the Carter Center in urging party leaders to be patient and refrain from inflaming tensions ahead of the release of final results, expected Friday.
But the opposition National Super Alliance (NASA) doubled down on accusations the counting process was a “sham” after Odinga claimed Wednesday that hackers broke into the electronic tallying system and manipulated results.
One of NASA’s leaders Musalia Mudavadi provided documents purportedly obtained from the servers of the electoral commission (IEBC) via a “confidential source” showing that Odinga had 8.04 million votes, leading Kenyatta on 7.75 million.
This was despite the fact that results streaming onto the IEBC website showed Kenyatta with 8.1 million votes to Odinga’s 6.7 million.
“We demand that the IEBC chairperson announce the presidential election results forthwith and declare Raila Amolo Odinga… as the duly elected president,” said Mudavadi.
IEBC chief Wafula Chebukati rejected this demand, saying the commission would only announce final results once all the forms from constituencies had arrived at the tallying centre in Nairobi and been validated — expected by midday Friday.
In his response to NASA he detailed that the printout was riddled with arithmetic errors and came from a Microsoft database, while the IEBC’s system was running on Oracle.
– ‘Needless anxiety’ –
While veteran opposition leader Odinga, 72, claimed 2013 polls were stolen from him, he took his grievances to the courts and ended up accepting his loss.
But in 2007-2008, in a poll observers said was riddled with irregularities, his loss prompted an eruption of ethno-political violence, leaving 1,100 dead and 600,000 displaced.
“We do not want to see any violence in Kenya. We know the consequences of what happened in 2008 and we don’t want to see a repeat of that,” Odinga told CNN in an interview.
However he repeated his assertion that “I don’t control anybody. People want to…