Kenyan Opposition Leader Contests Early Presidential Election Results

Aug 9, 2017
Originally published on August 9, 2017 5:47 pm
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Kenya is on edge a day after presidential elections. The vote count so far puts the incumbent in the lead. The opposition candidate calls the results illegal. He detailed what he said is a massive hacking of the counting system. Officials reject the accusations. In Nairobi, in one of Africa's largest slums, the anger and frustration erupted on to the streets. NPR's Eyder Peralta reports.

EYDER PERALTA, BYLINE: In the middle of Kibera, there is a large, open space. It's where people usually gather to talk, hang out, celebrate. But today it's a place for anger. Otieno Sylvester Ouma (ph) is seething because once again, Raila Odinga, the opposition candidate and his tribesmen, appeared to have lost a presidential bid.

OTIENO SYLVESTER OUMA: Ask in Kenya here, we are slave in our country, our own country because one life, one tribe wants to rule us a hundred years.

PERALTA: Jacklo Jack Awaga (ph) is an older guy. He says too many elections in this country have been rigged, and he's had it.

JACKLO JACK AWAGA: By now, I'm ready to do anything about Raila because I'm not going to suffer through government of Uhuru Kenyatta.

PERALTA: Those words out here have a lot of meaning. Kibera suffered some of the most horrific violence following the disputed 2007 vote. Neighbors killed neighbors because they were of a different tribe. I ask him if that painful period doesn't make him rethink those words.

AWAGA: There is no peace coming without justice. And I'm ready. And I'm ready. We are ready.

PERALTA: This morning, Kenyans woke up to news that the incumbent, President Uhuru Kenyatta, was sailing to victory with a margin of more than one million votes. The election had been cited, and monitors were generally happy with how it went. But Railo Odinga threw the whole country into a state of confusion when he called a press conference and said the reporting system had been tampered. Using the credentials of a murdered elections official, an algorithm had been added to the servers, he said. And Kenyatta was systematically given more votes. Then he blamed his opponent.

(SOUNDBITE OF ARCHIVED RECORDING)

RAILA ODINGA: Uhuru Kenyatta's regime was a fraud. But you can only cheat a people for so long.

PERALTA: The chief of Kenya's elections board, Ezra Chiloba, said they looked through the pages of server logs made public by Odinga, but they found nothing.

EZRA CHILOBA: There were no external, internal interference to the system at any point before, during and after the voting.

(SOUNDBITE OF WHISTLE BLOWING)

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #1: (Foreign language spoken).

PERALTA: None of that mattered in Kibera. Groups of people set fires on the street, and they gathered around to watch them burn, to vent.

UNIDENTIFIED MAN #2: We don't want peace - we don't, Raila. We don't want peace.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: (Foreign language spoken).

PERALTA: Juliana Katundo (ph) says she is just tired of being forgotten, of having the rich people always win elections and forget the masses who live inside these slums, too poor to send their kids to school and too poor to give them a good meal.

JULIANA KATUNDO: We are ready to die because of our right. Yes - not order, not peace.

PERALTA: As plumes of smoke took to the skies, she watches a tire engulfed in flames roll down the hill.

(CHEERING)

PERALTA: In other parts of Kenya, police fired tear gas. And just a few miles away in another slum, two people were shot dead by security forces. Eyder Peralta, NPR News, Nairobi.

(SOUNDBITE OF DR. DRE SONG, "EXPLOSIVE") Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.