Tensions shot up in Kenya today after presidential hopeful Raila Odinga's Coalition for Reforms and Democracy (CORD), which has been trailing in the polls, said preliminary election results had been "doctored" and pulled all its agents from the tallying centre at Bomas, Nairobi.
The latest indictment of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) raises the spectre of uncertainty and evokes ugly memories of the 2007 post-election violence. On Wednesday evening, legions of Cord agents, led by Raila's running-mate Kalonzo Musyoka, stormed out of Bomas protesting the 'doctored results' and have since not returned to the tally centre.
Musyoka today told a news conference at the Serena conference in Nairobi that: "We have evidence that the results we have received have been doctored," adding that in some cases "total votes cast exceeds the actual number of registered voters."
However, he said that his comments are not a pretext call for mass action and the party was 'committed to the principle of rule of law'.
"Because of these concerns, we as a coalition take the position that the national vote tallying process lacks integrity and has to be stopped," Musyoka said. Political observers told us that CORD resorted to these tactics after realizing that they had lost the election.
"Those are kicks of a dying horse," one analyst told us. "They have probably read the signs that things are not going their way."
In addition civil society leaders in Kenya urged political leaders today to be mindful of what they say because tensions had started building up among the people. James Mwamu, the president of the East African Law Society, said careless comments could lead to lack of confidence in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission which is yet to announce the final results of Monday's general election.
"We now have a new system in Kenya and we believe that anybody who has evidence of irregularities can keep them to be filed in court," Mwamu said, according to the Daily Nation website.
However, many observer missions and the IEBC argued that although the tallying process has been littered with technical glitches, the exercise remains free and fair. The IEBC, which initially tallied the results electronically, changed to the manual compilation of the results after the system broke down. With the backdrop of the 2007 experience, an independent electoral body was appointed after a meticulous consultation process involving all political sides.
But as the results continued to trickle in, hope continued to diminish for Raila's Cord coalition. By press time, the Jubilee coalition led by Uhuru Kenyatta had established a comfortable lead (a margin of above 500,000 votes) over CORD. However, a re-run was still a possibility. With votes from 141 out of 290 constituencies counted, Kenyatta had 3,134,654 votes (52.5%) while Odinga had 2,563,286 votes (42.9%).
Should Kenyatta win, his first hurdle will be to deal with the case at the International Criminal Court (ICC). The Standard newspaper reported today that the ICC has scheduled a status conference for Kenyatta and former Head of Civil Service Francis Muthaura on Monday, March 11. The main purpose of the status conference is for the chamber to receive additional information following requests by the two suspects that their cases be referred back to the pre-trial chamber for reconsideration.
Isaack Hassan, the chairman of IEBC said today that the final results would be announced before the end of today. This however, did little to assuage fears from a section of people that violence could still break out although not at the scale of the 2007 elections. Since Monday, Nairobi also remained a ghost city as many residents kept at their homes, stocking up on foodstuffs as a result of uncertainty.
The delays could affect Uganda, which still relies on Mombasa as its major route to the sea. There is fear that fuel prices and other commodity goods could shoot through the roof as a result of speculation and cartels.