Kenyans voted on August 8th in elections and Kenya is back in business. Much of the voting went on peacefully but issues began to arise at the vote tallying stage. These issues were more of questions raised with regard to the credibility of the elections.
Six weeks before the general elections, the IEBC Chairman, Wafula Chebukati had assured the country of free, fair and credible elections come August 8, 2017. Speaking during the second edition of Nation Leadership Forum, he said that the commission was 70% “technically and politically prepared” to conduct the general elections.
Prior to the elections, questions of credibility had come up with the voter register and the ballot-printing tender. American audit firm KPMG conducted an audit on the voters register and discovered 92,277 deceased persons and close to 200,000 double registrants, thereby necessitating its cleanup. The National Super Alliance (NASA) had also gone to court to oppose the ballot-printing tender given to certain business group from the Middle East.
Despite these hurdles and credibility questions, the elections went as planned. However, on Wednesday 9th August, NASA disputed the preliminary presidential results as released by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) saying they were compromised. NASA’s Presidential candidate Raila Odinga termed the results that indicated he was trailing Jubilee Party’s Presidential Candidate trail Uhuru Kenyatta by more than a million votes as “sham, fictitious and fake”.
Raila Odinga claimed the results were the “work of a computer” and that they did not reflect the will of voters. IEBC denied the claim. He asked IEBC to provide forms 34A and 34B to validate the results. Before him, his chief agent Musalia Mudavadi and NASA lawyer James Orengo made similar claims at Bomas of Kenya. Orengo said forms 34A and 34B should be the basis of the results and claimed the commission was just keying in results without scanning the forms as the law outlines.
Remarks by International Observers
The National Democratic Institute’s (NDI) international election delegation to Kenya’s August 8 general elections released a preliminary election statement assessing the credibility of the election. The delegation found that the people of Kenya “made their voices heard in a peaceful fashion through credible election processes.”
NDI deployed teams to 13 counties where they observed the opening, voting and counting processes. Overall, they witnessed a calm environment free of significant problems or security incidents. IEBC officials largely adhered to voting procedures and performed their functions professionally. Party and candidate agents were present through the process in the vast majority of polling stations. When counting concluded, party and candidate agents signed the Declaration of Results Form in the stations observed.
The African Union Election Observer Mission (AUEOM) and the International Conference of the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) also said the voting and counting of votes at the polling stations was credible. ICGLR said the voting day was peaceful and commended IEBC for its professionalism in carrying out the elections. ICGLR also said that the biometric voter identification ensured the credibility of the process. Reading the AUEOM statement, former South Africa President Thabo Mbeki said the voting process, counting at polling centres and transmission to the IEBC met standards set by Kenya and AU for a democratic election.
Former US Secretary of State John Kerry, who was heading the Carter Center’s observer team, said there were “minor variances here and there”, but none that had by far made him doubt the integrity of the polls. He said IEBC had in place a “transparent process of voting, counting, reporting and securing the vote” at a press conference in Nairobi.
The head of the Commonwealth observer mission and Ghana’s ex-President John Mahama said there was no reason to doubt the IEBC’s ability to deliver a “credible election”. “We believe that the election has been conducted in a transparent and credible manner and that Kenyans must be commended for that election,” he said.
Concerning the hacking claims made by NASA on the IEBC servers, a statement by the European Union observer mission said the opposition had made “serious allegations” and it was up to the IEBC to complete the “remaining steps with maximum transparency and adherence to the law”. “Candidates and their supporters must accept that not winning is a natural part of a democratic competition,” EU observer mission head Marietje Schaake said.
The Elections Observation Group (ELOG) released results of its parallel tallying centre after analyzing observation reports from 98.9% of its Parallel Vote Tabulation (PVT) observers from 1,692 polling stations out of the more than 40,000 IEBC polling stations in Kenya. They reported that the results they received were similar to those that IEBC announced at the presidential level.
Despite these positive observations, the international observers observed some challenges during the process such as:
- slowness of electronic kits in some polling stations
- late arrival of voting materials in some centres
Despite those challenges, the international observers’ remarks on the elections largely reaffirmed the credibility of the election process.