Kenyan Presidential Challenger Alleges Voter Fraud

Aug 10, 2017
Originally published on August 10, 2017 5:48 am
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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

What looked like a peaceful presidential election in Kenya has turned violent. Kenyans went to the polls on Tuesday. They were choosing between the incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta and his challenger, Raila Odinga. Everything appeared to go down peacefully. Early results yesterday showed President Kenyatta with a big lead, but then opposition candidate Odinga made an explosive accusation. He claimed there was massive voter fraud, and his supporters are outraged.

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UNIDENTIFIED MAN: We don't want someone to tell us about peace, peace, peace. Peace will will come when after Raila is president. And that is final. That is why we are waiting here.

GREENE: No peace right now, and those allegations did ignite protests. And at least two people have been killed in the violence. Let's go to Nairobi now. NPR East Africa correspondent Eyder Peralta is on the line. And, Eyder, this is still unfolding right now. You're at a press conference where the opposition candidate is just doubling down here on these claims of fraud.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: It's just - it is another stunning day here in Kenya. The opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, came in to the press conference about six hours late. And he was just stone-faced. He did not speak. Instead, his campaign manager, Musalia Mudavadi, spoke. And what he said is that they are commanding, from the electoral board, that Raila Odinga be declared the president. And, of course, this is stunning because the preliminary results that have been released so far show that President Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent, is leading by more than a million votes. And they say they have a completely different vote count that puts Raila Odinga about a couple of hundred thousand votes ahead of Uhuru Kenyatta.

GREENE: Oh, they say they have their own vote count. I guess it's worth noting we don't have any official winner yet. But just remind us, what exactly is Odinga, the opposition candidate, claiming happened here?

PERALTA: Yeah, this drama started a few weeks ago, when a high-ranking electoral official was murdered and tortured. And what Raila Odinga is saying is that a hacker used that man's credentials to go into the electorial reporting system and changed the result. They basically...

GREENE: This sounds like a movie.

PERALTA: ...Infected the system. It is. I mean, it sounds like a movie - basically infected this system to add votes to Uhuru Kenyatta. So they say this election is a fraud.

GREENE: Well, this is a very significant development in Kenya because Kenya has seen devastating violence after a disputed election - what? - about 10 years ago, right? I mean, a thousand people or so died then.

PERALTA: Yeah, I mean, 2007, you know, people still remember that. I was in Kibera yesterday, and I heard a lot of anger - people who said they were willing to go back to the streets and repeat what happened in 2007. It's hard to tell whether it will get to that point. But certainly, tensions are really high.

GREENE: All right, following this news that is unfolding right now - this political news in Kenya where there has been violence after the election - NPR's Eyder Peralta in Nairobi. Thanks, Eyder.

PERALTA: Thanks, David. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.