A supporter holds up a placard of opposition leader Raila Odinga at his final electoral campaign rally in Uhuru Park in downtown Nairobi, Kenya. -AP
Kenya's election commission was preparing to release final results Friday from a hotly-disputed vote in which the opposition has already claimed victory, fanning tensions in the east African nation. The National Super Alliance (NASA) opposition coalition on Thursday demanded its candidate Raila Odinga be declared president, claiming massive fraud was behind preliminary results that placed him far behind incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta.
US Ambassador Bob Godec joined foreign observers in urging parties to give the election commission (IEBC) space to finish its job and use legal means to deal with their grievances. Violence must never be an option. No Kenyan should die because of an election. Kenya's future is more important than any election. Leaders above all need to make that clear, Godec said.
Opposition strongholds were calm Friday just hours before the final result is due, after pockets of protests in the western city of Kisumu and Nairobi slums, where police shot two protesters dead on Wednesday. But memories are still raw of a disputed poll that led to two months of ethno-political violence in 2007-8, leaving 1,100 dead and displacing 600,000.
Foreign observers praised a peaceful, credible voting process, but the mood quickly turned sour when Odinga rejected the results after only a few hours of counting. Odinga first complained the electronically transmitted results were not being backed up by the required forms.
He later unveiled details of an alleged hacking attack to manipulate results. NASA then doubled down with a claim the election commission (IEBC) was concealing results contained on its server that, it said, showed Odinga to be the winner. We demand that the IEBC chairperson announce the presidential election results forthwith and declare Raila Amolo Odinga... as the duly elected president, said one of NASA's leaders, Musalia Mudavadi.
The charge ratcheted up tensions that have seen Kenya on a go-slow since voting day on Tuesday, with many businesses shut, civil servants staying at home and streets largely empty.
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