Opposition Says Kenya Election Was Hacked

  • A relative wails on the floor of an alleyway near to the body of a man who had been shot in the head and who the crowd claimed had been shot by police, as the angry crowd shouts towards the police, in the Mathare slum of Nairobi, Kenya Wednesday, Aug. 9, 2017. Kenya's election took an ominous turn on Wednesday as violent protests erupted in the capital. (AP Photo/Ben Curtis) ap — Ben Curtis

Los Angeles Times
Published: 8/10/2017 12:55:04 AM
Modified: 8/10/2017 12:55:12 AM

Nairobi, Kenya — Kenya’s opposition presidential candidate, Raila Odinga, on Tuesday rejected the tally from this week’s election, claiming that hackers had manipulated data in the election commission’s computer system.

At least three opposition supporters were killed in protests that erupted in several areas after Odinga made his accusation, according to witnesses and police.

The results of the hotly contested campaign have not been announced, but early results posted by the Independent Elections and Boundaries Commission give President Uhuru Kenyatta a strong lead.

Commission chief Wafula Chebukati said on Wednesday he did not know whether the system had been hacked but vowed to investigate the claim. He said the progressive tally on the website was not the final result and promised an audit of voting before a final announcement.

With about 95 percent of the vote counted, the president has opened up a lead of 1.4 million votes, according to the count recorded on the commission website. Odinga’s rejection of the tally fueled tensions among opposition supporters fearful of a stolen election, and raised fears a disputed result could trigger violence.

The opposition claim centered on the torture and murder of a key election official, Chris Msando, who was in charge of information and communications technology at the election commission, just days before the vote. Information technology experts for the opposition claimed on Wednesday that Msando’s user ID and password had been used to hack into the IEBC computer system and to gain access to Chebukati’s account starting at about 12.37 a.m. They said an algorithm had been planted that gave Kenyatta an automatic 11 percent lead.

“This is a fraud of monumental gravity. Some people conspired and denied Kenyans the opportunity to elect their leaders,” Odinga said. “We didn’t have an election.”

He said the opposition’s own informal vote tally gave him 8.1 million votes compared with 7.2 million for Kenyatta. He released 50 pages of what he claimed were the computer logs of the electoral commission which he said proved his claims.

Elections in Kenya are ethnically charged, and past presidential elections have been flawed, according to international observers. With tensions as high as they are, there are fears of a repeat of the ethnic killings that followed the disputed 2007 election, which left up to 1,500 people dead.

Opposition supporters reacted angrily to Odinga’s claims, although he urged restraint.

“We have urged people to remain calm as we delve deeper into this matter. I don’t control the people but I have asked them to remain calm,” he told journalists.

But witnesses said at least two protesters were shot dead by police in the Mathare slum district after angry opposition supporters took to the streets, chanting “Uhuru must go!” and throwing rocks.

One witness, Alice Adhiambo, 40, said she saw one young male protester shot in the head by police. She said the demonstrators confronted police in the afternoon but fled when they fired tear gas and bullets. Another protester was taken to a clinic after being shot in the leg, according to witnesses.

Earlier, furious opposition supporters in Mathare harassed passersby, demanding to know their ethnic group and robbing those from rival ethnic groups, according to a local peace activist, Jakiwa Inda.

“After Raila issued this statement, tension came very high. Most of the youths were outside and I saw youths have started to harass people who were just walking. They started asking, ‘What tribe are you?’” Inda said community leaders had urged the angry opposition supporters to calm down without success.

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