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John Kerry reassures Kenyans vote was not rigged

Former US Secretary of State, John Kerry (C) talks with former South Africa president and African Union observer Thabo Mbeki (L) and an independent observer at the national tally centre on August 9, 2017 in Nairobi as final results for Kenya's presidential elections are anticipated.  President Uhuru Kenyatta appeared headed for re-election Wednesday as his rival Raila Odinga rejected early results as "fake", setting nerves on edge in east Africa's richest economy. With ballots from 90 percent of polling stations counted, electoral commission (IEBC) results showed Kenyatta leading with 54.6 percent of the nearly 13 million ballots tallied against Odinga's 44.5 percent, a difference of 1.3 million votes.  / AFP PHOTO / TONY KARUMBA        (Photo credit should read TONY KARUMBA/AFP/Getty Images)

Kenyan opposition leader Raila Odinga said he refuses to accept the results of the presidential election, even though the results haven't been announced yet.

With more than 98% of the polling stations reporting, Odinga trailed incumbent President Uhuru Kenyatta in a 54%-45% split Thursday.

Odinga claims the election was rigged in favor of Kenyatta, with the server hacked as results were transmitted.

At a press conference Thursday, members of Odinga's party gave no evidence to back up his claim, citing only unnamed sources at Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, known as the IEBC.

Odinga told CNN he wants an "independent audit of the transaction log to the server."

While the challenger said the election was a fraud, former US Secretary of State John Kerry tried to reassure Kenyans the election wasn't rigged.

Kerry: Every Kenyan's vote is protected

On Thursday, Kerry said he was confident in the integrity of the Kenyan elections and praised the country's election commission for its transparency and diligence.

The 73-year-old Kerry is co-leading the Carter Center's mission of election observers, who released their preliminary observations a day after Odinga claimed early electronic election results had been compromisedby hackers.

"The process is still underway. But we believe that the election's commission in Kenya has put together a process that will allow each and every vote's integrity to be proven," Kerry said, noting that there were "little aberrations here and there."

He reiterated that the IEBC is still working to verify the electronic online reporting with the physical ballot forms from polling stations, as required by law.

"If anything was electronically fiddled with, there is a way to go back and absolutely ascertain what happened in the polling station," he said. "So by paper ballots, there is a protection of each and every Kenyan's vote."

Fears of 2008

Odinga's complaints of election irregularities have stoked fears of aggrieved supporters taking to the streets in a scenario reminiscent of violence that erupted in the aftermath of the December 2007 election.

More than 1,000 people were killed in a campaign of ethnic violence in the months after Odinga, defeated by then-President Mwai Kibaki, claimed the vote was rigged.

Odinga's opposition party, the National Super Alliance, has repeatedly called for calm as the final results are compiled.

"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 anymore," Odinga told CNN on Thursday.

"I don't control anybody. What is happening is that people just want to see justice. We also hope that the security forces are not going to use excessive force."

Deadly clashes

The election in Kenya, the biggest economy in East Africa and a regional hub, was peaceful and enthusiastic on Tuesday.

But confrontations emerged a day later between police and protesters in opposition strongholds in the capital and the western city of Kisumu, leaving at least two people dead.

Supporters of opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga shout and brandish sticks during a protest in the Mathare slums of Nairobi on Wednesday.

On Thursday, Nairobi appeared to be somewhat quieter than usual, possibly due to school holidays and some concern from residents about potential violence. But people were returning to their daily routines after the national holiday on Tuesday, and some businesses were open.

Over 400 international election observers -- including officials from the United States and the European Union -- were deployed across the country to monitor voting, the tallying process and part of the post-election period.

Marietje Schaake, the head of the EU's mission, said Thursday that the group had seen "no signs of centralized or localized manipulation" after assessing voting procedures.

Failed attempt to hack system

Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the voting authority, acknowledged Thursday that there had been an unsuccessful attempt to tamper with its election system.

"The commission has responded to the claims by (the National Super Alliance). Preliminary reports show hacking was attempted but did not succeed," Chebukati said, without elaborating further on the failed hack.

Odinga, a 72-year-old former political prisoner who was running for president for a fourth time, had flatly rejected the preliminary results as "fake" the day before.

He said hackers had infiltrated the election authority's systems using the identity of Chris Msando, an election official who was tortured and murdered a week before the vote.

"What the IEBC has posted as results of the Presidential Elections is a complete fraud based on a multiplier that fraudulently gave Uhuru Kenyatta votes that were not cast," he said in a series of tweets.

"We have uncovered the fraud. Uhuru must go home," he added. "The IEBC must be fully accountable."

: nation.co.ke

 

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