10 August 2017

Africa: Mbeki - AU Has No Mandate to Probe 'Hacking' Claims in Kenya Polls... At Least for Now

Photo: Thabo Mbeki/Facebook
Presidents Thabo Mbeki and John Mahama, leading the AU and Commonwealth Elections Observer Missions in Kenya.

Former president Thabo Mbeki has commended Kenyans for the peaceful and orderly way the country conducted their elections on Tuesday, and said nothing should be done afterwards that will spoil that.

"They cast their ballots in conditions of peace and freedom and are able to address their challenges. And we applaud Kenyan people for that, and we applaud what we have seen up to now. It would be very regrettable if anything emerges afterwards that sought to corrupt the outcome, to spoil that outcome," he said.

Mbeki, who heads the African Union Elections Observer Mission in Kenya, on Thursday morning delivered its preliminary statement, in which he said the mission "has taken note of concerns that have been expressed by some stakeholders relating to the tallying of the votes and therefore the ultimate outcome of the elections".

Opposition leader and presidential contender, Raila Odinga, on Wednesday released a report alleging that the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission computers had been hacked into and the results altered.

'We're not an AU election investigation team'

Mbeki hinted that the AU could get involved in investigations should the government of Kenya request it, but said the mission itself had no mandate to investigate for now.

He said the mission, and other international observer missions, went to meet with Odinga at his request and were presented with his report which "people like me, who are illiterate in terms of technology" couldn't understand.

Mbeki, however, said the correct procedures should be followed and complaints laid with the IEBC about this.

"The IEBC, obviously, together with the parties concerned must conduct that investigation. That's not observation. We're not an African Union election investigation team. We are an African Union Election Observation Mission," he said.

He added the results forms 34A and 34B, signed by election agents and party agents at each polling station and in the constituencies, could be used to verify the election results.

More voter education needed

Mbeki also expressed concern about the "inflexible" way in which ballots were interpreted, resulting in around 400 000 rejected ballots out of almost 15 million cast.

"What we find is that the voter has ticked a particular box. Ninety percent of the tick is in a particular box, and 10% spilled over into the next box. In this instance they then rejected that particular ballot, the IEBC and party agents," he said. "Now certainly to me it looked a bit odd."

Mbeki said more voter education was needed to get it right, but also hinted that, if a voter's intention was clear, the ballot should be accepted.

On election day there was some concerns on social media about ballots stamped as rejected, even if they were fine.

In a joint press conference the observer missions from the East African Community and the International Conference of the Great Lakes region had a more hands-off approach to rigging claims, saying they had not observed any of the hacking.

News24

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