2 January 2008

Kenya: Election Chief Doubts Kibaki Victory

Kampala — IN a damning admission, the chairman of the Kenyan Electoral Commission (ECK), Samuel Kivuitu, has said he announced the presidential election results under pressure.

When asked if indeed President Mwai Kibaki won the elections, Kivuiti told journalists at his Nairobi residence on Tuesday night: "I do not know whether Kibaki won the election".

Kivuitu continued with his stunning revelations when he said he took the presidential election winner's certificate to State House, Nairobi, after "some people threatened to collect it while I'm the one mandated by law to do so".

"I arrived at State House to take the certificate and I found the Chief Justice there, ready to swear-in Kibaki," Kivuitu said.

He revealed that some leaders of Kibaki's Party of National Unity had pressurised him by calling him frequently.

The alleged pressure, he continued, came in the wake of parallel pressure from a number of EU ambassadors and Maina Kiai of the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights not to announce the results until complaints were addressed.

"I had thought of resigning, but thought against it because I don't want people to say I'm a coward," he said. The embattled chairman made the revelations shortly after meeting with 22 ECK commissioners.

Kivuitu conceded that matters that arose from the poll results were so urgent that they should be taken to court, and the ruling done with minimum delay to ease national tension.

"If this matter is finally taken to court, the ruling should be made urgently so that if it were decided that Raila is the President, so be it. If it is Kibaki, so be it," he added.

Kivuitu said he announced the results because the commission had no legal mandate to investigate complaints raised by the opposition immediately.

Kivuitu fell short of naming the individuals who put pressure on him but went on to announce that the commission was consulting eminent lawyers over the next course of action "so that its actions remain within the law".

He said he backed independent investigation into what may have happened, but added that this would be only if the law would provide for it.

"We are culprits as a commission. We have to leave it to an independent group to investigate what actually went wrong," the chairman said.

Highlights of the EU Observers report

THE 2007 general elections have fallen short of key international and regional standards for democratic elections. Most significantly, they were marred by a lack of transparency in the processing and tallying of presidential results, which raises concerns about the accuracy of the final result of this election.

At the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) headquarters, the EU electoral expert was forbidden entry into the tallying room on various occasions, despite clear and public instructions from the chairman that he be granted access.

During the campaign period, freedom of speech was generally respected. However, on the announcement of the final results for the presidential election at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre, journalists were ejected from the building.

Immediately following the announcement, a directive from the Internal Security minister ordered broadcasters to suspend all live broadcast, seriously infringing the right of the media to report without undue state interference.

In a large number, almost a third, of polling stations visited, party agents were not given a copy of the result sheets Furthermore, in more than a third of polling stations visited, the results were not posted at the polling station level, fundamentally undermining transparency measures in the process.

In Central Province, the majority of EU observer teams experienced difficulties in obtaining the results for each polling station from returning officers during the tally process.

In several constituencies, including Mathioya, Koleleni, Mvita, Kisauni, Changamwe, Likoni and Central/North Imenti, the returning officers refused to provide constituency results to the EU observers before these results were confirmed in Nairobi. The constituency results form in Kangema showed to EU observers was only signed by a party agent of PNU.

Serious inconsistencies and anomalies were identified in the results announced by the ECK. For example, in Molo and Kieni, there were significant differences between presidential election results reported by EU observers at the constituency level and results announced by the ECK at national level.

Additionally, at the ECK headquarters, the EU Chief Observer was shown forms on which the election results for constituencies 205 (Lari) and 96 (Kandara) had been changed. Furthermore, for Kerugoya, EU observers reported a discrepancy of more than 10,000 votes in the official turnout given for presidential and legislative elections.

Whilst the result of the elections were announced, the official figures for all the constituencies are still not available and adequate measures have not been taken at all levels to ensure the results can be correlated in the public domain.

To enable doubts over the accuracy of the presidential results to be clarified, it is vital that an independent investigation is swiftly conducted and the ECK demonstrates maximum transparency in this period.

As an essential step, the results of all polling stations must be swiftly published in newspapers and on the Internet to enable an independent audit to be undertaken.

By Vision Reporter and Agencies

Copyright © 2008 New Vision. All rights reserved. Distributed by AllAfrica Global Media (allAfrica.com). To contact the copyright holder directly for corrections — or for permission to republish or make other authorized use of this material, click here.

AllAfrica publishes around 2,000 reports a day from more than 130 news organizations and over 200 other institutions and individuals, representing a diversity of positions on every topic. We publish news and views ranging from vigorous opponents of governments to government publications and spokespersons. Publishers named above each report are responsible for their own content, which AllAfrica does not have the legal right to edit or correct.

Articles and commentaries that identify allAfrica.com as the publisher are produced or commissioned by AllAfrica. To address comments or complaints, please Contact us.