Monday, December 31, 2007

Kenya Election Update: Violence Erupts After Kibaki Declared Winner; Odinga Makes Counter-claim of Victory

Violence erupts after Kibaki sworn in


President Kibaki was sworn in Sunday for a second and final term as Head of State as riots and protests erupted in parts of the country over the disputed presidential results.

And shortly afterwards, the ODM leadership insisted that Kenyans had elected Mr Raila Odinga “as the legitimate president” and were “ready to see him serve democratically”.

The statement read in Nairobi by Narok North MP-elect William Ntimama outlined the party’s plan for today.

After being sworn in at State House Nairobi, President Kibaki asked his opponents to accept the outcome of the polls, which he described as “credible”.

Credible elections

“I thank the ECK, security agents, observers and all other players for remaining committed to the conduct of honest, orderly and credible elections that have enabled the true verdict of the people to prevail,” he said.

In other developments, the Government through Internal Security minister John Michuki suspended all live broadcasts by television and radio stations and threatened to arrest anyone publishing alarming materials.

The live broadcast of Mr Ntimama’s statement from Orange House was interrupted after the order.

Today, the Media council, which regulates journalistic conduct, will meet to consider a response to the minister’s order.

Before announcing the results on KBC television, Mr Kivuitu said: “A lot of things which were said were not correct but one can understand when an election is this close. In an election, there are invariably winners and losers. While the winner celebrates, it is unpleasant to lose. Furthermore, the backers (of the loser) will be disappointed... The contest this year was furious. Negative ethnicity did not help”.

Violence erupted in parts of Nairobi, Mombasa, Kilifi and Kakamega while President Kibaki’s supporters in Central Province and parts of Nairobi broke into celebrations.

The European Union chief election observer, Mr Alexander Graf Lambsdorff, said the ECK had not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates in the presidential race.

“The result for the Molo constituency, for example, was announced in the presence of EU observers at the constituency tally centre as 50,145 votes for President Kibaki, while the ECK declared the result for the President to be 75,261 votes,” he said.

Doubts remain

“Because of this and other observed irregularities, some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election as announced today,” he said in a statement.

The President was sworn in by High Court registrar Christine Meoli at 6.35pm within the grounds of State House, Nairobi, exactly five years from the date when he first assumed office in 2003.

Electoral Commission of Kenya chairman Samuel Kivuitu declared President Kibaki duly elected with 4,584,721 votes against ODM presidential candidate Raila Odinga who had 4,352,993 votes.

At the end of the closest presidential race since the reintroduction of multi-party politics in 1992, only 231,728 votes separated President Kibaki and Mr Odinga.

Day of chaos

Sunday’s events were the culmination of a second day of chaos and protests at the manner in which the results were being released.

Demonstrations, looting and burning of property were reported in parts of Nairobi where a commuter bus was reduced to ashes.

Cases of violence were also reported in Kibera, South “B”, Kariobangi North, Jamhuri estate, Komorack, Juja Road and Eastleigh in Nairobi and Eldoret, Kericho and Kisumu.

Suspicion and claims of vote rigging delayed the announcement of the final results for at least six hours.

Politicians from both sides engaged the ECK in a shouting match for much of the morning as they argued over the number of presidential votes that each of their candidates had garnered after Thursday’s election.

The ECK and two agents of every presidential candidate spent Saturday night verifying results from all constituencies except Kajiado North and Molo whose outcome had not been received.

ODM secretary-general Anyang’ Nyong’o said the night-long audit was meant to ensure that the correct figures scored by each were the ones to be announced by the commission.

Prof Nyong’o said ODM would not accept the final outcome unless the verification report was made public.

“The electoral commission must first make public the audit report of all the votes that they went through at night before its chairman announces who the winner of the election is. If the announcement is made without the verification report, we in ODM will find it difficult to accept the results,” he said at a press conference at KICC.

Strong teams from PNU and ODM arrived at the ECK media centre at 8am anxious to know the fate of their presidential candidates.

Justice and Constitutional Affairs minister Martha Karua and Mr George Nyamweya represented PNU, while Ugenya MP James Orengo and Mr Otiende Amolo represented ODM.

Exchange of blows

At 11.57am there was a near exchange of blows over seating arrangements at the front row pitting assistant minister Danson Mungatana of PNU and ODM party agent Joseph Misoi.

At 12.06pm Ms Karua and Mr Nyamweya were called from the media centre to join the ODM team upstairs in resolving the deadlock that had delayed the announcement of the results.

When the results were finally announced, Kibaki was declared with winner, followed by Mr Odinga and Mr Kalonzo Musyoka of ODM-Kenya.

Raila also declared 'president'

Publication Date: 12/31/2007

ODM leader Raila Odinga Sunday declared that Kenyans had elected him the President of Kenya just moments before the Electoral Commission released the final results.

However, the results announced by the commission’s chairman showed that President Kibaki had emerged the winner.

Mr Odinga had earlier asked the President to concede defeat.

He told an international news conference at ODM’s Pentagon offices: “The people know that they voted to reject the incumbent and put in place a President and a Government they have faith in. That is why they have elected me President.”

However, he appealed for national calm, telling ODM supporters not to cause any chaos or destroy property.

He demanded that all presidential ballots be brought to Nairobi for a public recount under the full glare of the media and observers.

Deeply disturbed

Mr Odinga added: “Kenyans are deeply disturbed and angered by the attempt of this Government to steal this election through a process that was fraudulent at every step of the way.”

He said he was not going to accept a Kibaki win when the results from all parts of Kenya did not give him the mandate.

“I cannot and would not accept a Kibaki win; the results are there, if I had lost I would have accepted, this is fait accompli (over),” Mr Odinga said.

However, he said he was not declaring himself the President.

“I am not trying to do an Abiola in Kenya... I hope some sanity will prevail,” he added amidst a rare laughter in the tense media conference.

He was referring to an incident in which former Nigerian President Moshood Abiola declared himself President.

And he warned: “If they go ahead and declare Kibaki the winner, the consequences are too grave to contemplate ... look at Ivory Coast one of the most successful countries in West Africa ... we want to remain peaceful, prosperous and democratic.”

The Langata MP-elect challenged President Kibaki to be a statesman “the way he has always claimed” by conceding defeat, saying his Government had lost legitimacy and could not govern.

He talked of massive rigging in some regions, saying that even with the rigged results, ODM tallies from all 210 stations showed that he was ahead of President Kibaki by about 200,000 votes.

However, he said, the real result would have him leading by over 500,000 votes.

He said some ECK officials who were dissatisfied with the election had provided them with information that figures in some of President Kibaki’s strongholds were being inflated so that he could emerge the winner.

Mr Odinga argued that if the genuine results in the remaining 19 constituencies were computed President Kibaki would get 268,530 while he got 318,491, leaving him a winner with about 200,000 votes.

“Despite this deeply flawed process, the result of the presidential vote was still in our favour,” Mr Odinga added.

He said the results were being altered at the ECK offices at the Kenyatta International Conference Centre.

Tight race

Mr Odinga wondered how President Kibaki was going to rule on basis of results from two regions.

The candidate, locked in a tight race with the incumbent, spoke as the nation awaited the outcome of an overnight audit of presidential votes from all the 210 constituencies by the Electoral Commission.

Mr Odinga said the commissioners were under pressure to declare rigged results, but he appealed to them to consult their conscience and not to let Kenyans down.

“It is not true that Mr Kivuitu has no option. He can resign if his conscience tells him he is being forced to declare wrong results,” he said.

Mr Odinga said Kenya was bigger than any single individual and asked for calm and patience nationwide as the electoral process moved on.

He said President Kibaki’s Government had suffered serious defeat in the polls, losing 20 ministers and no longer had the legitimacy to govern.

US and Britain call for acceptance of results

Publication Date: 12/31/2007

The US and the British governments Sunday asked all presidential candidates to accept the results of the just concluded General Election.

A statement from the US embassy said: “We ask all candidates to accept the Commission’s final results and to urge their supporters to reject violence and respect the rule of law. Regardless of the eventual winners of this election, we call on Kenyans across the political spectrum to work together to advance democracy and national development.’’

It praised Kenyans for conducting peaceful elections and condemned the cases of violence.

According to the statement, the ECK did a perfect job and will give Kenyans the president they want.

A US Embassy official, Mr Thomas J. Dowling, called for patience until the commission announces the results and said any concerns about the elections should be addressed to the Electoral Commission.

The US government released another statement from New York, urging Kenyans to accept the final election results calmly, saying it had “great confidence” in the ECK and its chairman, Samuel Kivuitu.

State Department spokesman Tom Casey hailed Kenyans for the “largely peaceful and orderly voting.”

“But,” he added, “we share the Commission’s concerns about reporting delays that have slowed tabulation of final election results.”

A statement by British Foreign Secretary Mr David Milliban and Secretary of State for International Development Mr Douglas Alexander said: “We are disturbed at the violence surrounding the elections. The British government calls for an end to the violence, respect for the democratic process and for all Kenya’s political leaders to act responsibly.

“This is a pivotal moment for Kenya. It is vital that the entire election process meets the expectations of the Kenyan electorate.”

Meanwhile, the National Convention Executive Council, NCEC expressed shock over the incidents of violence and looting that took place in Kisumu, Eldoret, Kericho, Mombasa and Nairobi.

NCEC admonished ECK for incompetence and being sources of delay in releasing elections results.

“NCEC finds it irresponsible, reckless and tantamount to incitement for the top leadership of both ODM and PNU to purport to announce their individual results.

“It is an unfortunate and embarrassing for this country that leaders can be that greedy and hungry for political power to the extent of gambling with people’s lives.

It said that all electoral irregularities and complaints lodged with the ECK by the aggrieved parties must be thoroughly investigated within the shortest time possible and justice done satisfactorily.

“Since the electoral laws do not give a defined limit for the hearing of petitions, there should not be a situation where a case goes on in court for years before it is determined.”

Kibaki wins Kenya vote, protests erupt

Daniel Wallis and Wangui Kanina
Nairobi, Kenya
30 December 2007 07:00

Kenya's President Mwai Kibaki won a second five-year term on Sunday in a disputed election victory that triggered deadly riots by tens of thousands of opposition supporters.

As smoke billowed from protests in Nairobi slums, Kibaki was sworn in on the lawn of State House just an hour after the result was announced, his hand on a Bible. Opposition supporters accused the government of vote-rigging.

The 76-year-old Kibaki urged Kenyans to put aside election "passions" and promised a corruption-free government to forge unity in the polarised East African nation of 36-million, long seen as an island of relative stability in a volatile region.

"I thank all of you for the trust you have bestowed upon me," he said. "I urge all of us to set aside the passions that were excited by the election process and work together."

Some Kibaki supporters celebrated in the streets.

But they were quickly outnumbered by furious supporters of opposition rival Raila Odinga.

Local TV said 10 people were killed in Kisii, in Odinga's ethnic Luo homeland. Police shot into a crowd in Kisumu, killing another three people, residents and witnesses said. A Reuters reporter was attacked in Kisumu.

Odinga has accused the government of widespread rigging -- allegations that had already fuelled two days of ethnic riots.

In Kibera, Nairobi's biggest shantytown, witnesses said protesters burned shacks as they chanted pro-Odinga slogans.

"There's a lot of heat over here. People are out in their thousands," Kibera resident Joshua Odutu said against a backdrop of gunshots, whistles and shouting.

The head of Kenya's electoral commission (ECK), Samuel Kivuitu, declared Kibaki winner amid chaotic scenes at the main vote -allying centre. Kivuitu had to be escorted to safety by paramilitary police.

'Doubt remains'

Chief European Union observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said some doubts remained about the accuracy of the final count.

"We believe that, at this time, the ECK, despite the best efforts of its chairperson, has not succeeded in establishing the credibility of the tallying process to the satisfaction of all parties and candidates," he said in a statement.

"We regret that it has not been possible to address irregularities about which both the EU [observer mission] and the ECK have evidence ... some doubt remains as to the accuracy of the result of the presidential election as announced today [Sunday]."

Odinga's officials were locked in a crisis meeting after the announcement and did not immediately comment.

Delays announcing official results have triggered furious protests and ethnic clashes across Kenya.

The few supermarkets and food shops that opened were packed with nervous customers earlier in the day. Shelves of meat, milk, beer, bottled water and other provisions emptied fast.

Business leaders said this weekend's tribal clashes were costing more than $30-million a day in lost taxes -- not to mention looting damage -- and threatened investment in Kenya.

One election observer who asked not to be named said they were "in very little doubt" there had been rigging. -- Reuters

Defeated Kenyan challenger cries foul

Bogonko Bosire
Nairobi, Kenya
31 December 2007 07:28

Defeated opposition candidate Raila Odinga is set to press his claims of vote fraud on Monday at a Nairobi rally to declare him Kenya's "People's President" despite threats of arrest.

Mwai Kibaki was sworn in for a second term as Kenyan president on Sunday after being officially declared the winner, but was quickly forced to order a media blackout as allegations of vote-rigging fuelled widespread riots.

Police shot dead seven people as furious opposition supporters went on the rampage in major cities, bringing to 20 the number of people to have died in poll-related violence since Thursday's election.

Odinga, a flamboyant 62-year-old former political prisoner who led pre-election polls, flatly rejected the result, which had been delayed several times, and called on his supporters to turn out at Monday's rally.

EU monitors questioned the credibility of the vote count, which saw Kibaki overtake his rival's early lead, despite many of his government's ministers losing their seats in parliamentary elections also held on Thursday.

Kibaki called for a "national healing" process as he was sworn in at State House within hours of his victory being announced.

"I urge all of us to set aside the passions that were excited by the election process, and work together as one people with the single purpose of building a strong, united, prosperous and equitable country," he said.

But the conciliatory tone of the 76-year-old's victory speech fell on deaf ears as supporters of Odinga's Orange Democratic Movement (ODM) rioted in a Nairobi slum and his heartlands in the west.

"There is chaos here and we are struggling to contain the situation," said Peter Kavila, the police commander for western Kenya.

Fires were also set in the port city of Mombasa where police said they were involved in running battles with protestors.

'Legitimate president'

Odinga's party showed no sign of conceding the election.

"We know that the people of Kenya elected Raila Amolo Odinga as their legitimate president and they are ready to see him serve democratically in the capacity," said an ODM statement urging supporters to turn out at Monday's rally.

Kenyan police warned Odinga he would face arrest if he went ahead with the demonstration.

"After due consideration of the prevailing security situation, the meeting is illegal and any person who will attempt to attend this meeting will face the full force of the law," the police commissioner's office said.

Shortly after the Electoral Commission of Kenya declared Kibaki the winner with 4 584 721 votes, compared with 4 352 993 for Odinga, plumes of black smoke billowed into the Nairobi sky above the sprawling Kibera slum as riot police attempted to contain mobs of angry protestors.

Odinga had warned earlier that the Kenyan people were not prepared to accept a rigged election, stoking fears of widespread unrest across the country.

The European Union's team of election observers in Kenya said the electoral commission had failed to ensure the credibility of the presidential vote.

"We regret that it has not been possible to address irregularities about which both the EU EOM [Electoral Observation Mission] and the ECK have evidence," chief EU observer Alexander Graf Lambsdorff said in a statement.

Former colonial ruler Britain expressed "real concerns" at reported "irregularities".

But in Washington, US State Department spokesperson Rob McInturff congratulated Kibaki on his re-election and called on all sides to accept the results despite the fraud allegations.

Kibaki became the country's third president in 2002, ironically with the help of Odinga, and has presided over a period of unprecedented economic growth in the East African nation.

Odinga, who had the support of many of Kenya's poor, had argued in his election campaign that few Kenyans had reaped the benefits of the country's economic success. -- AFP

1 comment:

kithimba said...

well he might have be sworn in as president of kenya but is he really the people elect?.this is a guestion that we all have to ask ourself because three quater of kenya population had voted him out.What i reguest now is for the international bodies to come up and talk for peace in this beloved country.I hope the election will be recounted and peace will be restored back.