Raila Odinga, Kenya’s opposition leader, has alleged that hackers infiltrated the electoral commission’s computer system to manipulate a presidential election after provisional results showed Uhuru Kenyatta on course for victory. Kenyatta, the incumbent, had secured 54.3 per cent of the vote after results from about 96 per cent of polling stations had been declared. Odinga was on 44.8 per cent.
Odinga, making his fourth bid for Kenya’s presidency, declared “an attack on democracy”, adding that his party’s internal results were “completely different” to the official tally. “Some persons conspired and executed a scheme to deny Kenyans their democratic right to elect their leaders,” said Odinga.
“From the information in our possession, some person’s gained entry into the IEBC [electoral board] election management database and assumed the role of our collective sovereign.” Ezra Chiloba, the commission’s chief executive officer, rejected Mr Odinga’s claim.
“There was no external interference in the management system before, during or after the election,” he said on Wednesday evening. “Based on our own study we’re comfortable where we are.”
Chiloba said the commission had not received a formal complaint from Mr Odinga about the hacking but that commission IT experts had analysed the data released by the opposition leader.
“The team confirmed that the claims could not be substantiated [from the data],” he said. The rigging claims risk raising tensions in a country with a history of violent and disputed elections. Shortly after Odinga made his allegations, small protests erupted in slums in Nairobi and Kisumu, both opposition strongholds. At least one person was reported shot dead in the capital. Police fired tear gas against a few hundred protesters, mostly young men, in Kisumu, a city in western Kenya and the scene of violent protests in 2008.
“We are waiting for action,” said Henry Otieno Juma, adding that people felt threatened by the heavy police presence. “If this election is done the wrong way, we will split this government apart.”
According to Financial times, Odinga, a former prime minister, lost to Mr Kenyatta in 2013 in a poll that the opposition leader also claimed was rigged after the electronic system collapsed. Five years earlier, at least 1,200 people were killed and hundreds of thousands fled their homes after a flawed vote.
Odinga called on Wednesday for his supporters to remain calm. His opposition coalition distributed 52 pages of data that it claimed came from the electoral commission’s computer servers.
Odinga said the pages showed the commission’s database settings had been disabled and an algorithm loaded to create an 11 percentage point gap between the two frontrunners. The veteran opposition leader linked what he said were the fake results to the murder last week of a senior electoral commission IT manager.
“This is why Chris Msando was assassinated, so that this could happen,” he said. Chebukati said more than 28,000 of the original results forms from the 41,000 polling stations had arrived at the commission’s national tallying centre and these would be used to cross-check the provisional results.
According to the constitution, the commission has seven days, including polling day, to announce the final results. The provisional tallies are based on text messages sent from returning officers at each polling station directly to the commission’s database. It has repeatedly stressed that the official results will be calculated from the forms that are filled in at each polling station and sent electronically to the commission’s headquarters. Analysts said that because of this there was little to gain by hacking the provisional results database. Raphael Tuju, secretary-general of Mr Kenyatta’s Jubilee party, said Odinga should not subject Kenya to “unnecessary drama”.
“You cannot claim the results are fake,” he said. “You have to accept them however they come.”
He was “delighted” that “very many Kenyans have decided to move to the side of President Uhuru Kenyatta”. Nine international election observer missions, including the EU and the African Union, issued a joint statement calling on all “parties and their supporters” to allow the electoral commission to “work freely in a secure environment, with time to complete the [counting] process”. The vote on Tuesday, which was also for parliament and local representatives, took place without incident.
But observers said the danger was that supporters from both sides had been convinced by their leadership that they could not lose.
The Kenya Human Rights Commission, an independent body, said the election “has degenerated into a now familiar process”. “The announcement of completely unverifiable results will, if unaddressed, create serious political instability,” it said.
“They have brought body bags, meaning there’s going to be a mass killing,” he said. Frank Ouma Otieno, 25, a student leader, said people did not trust the authorities to hold a fair election. “We have lost hope in the electoral system. Right now, they are dancing to the tune of the government,” he said.