Lawyers challenging Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory in the Kenyan presidential election said on Wednesday new technology meant to counter fraud had broken down, leading to a manipulated vote count. Losing candidate Raila Odinga is contesting the result in court and both sides have agreed to accept the outcome. A disputed vote five years ago ignited tribal violence that dented Kenya’s reputation as a stable democracy but the presidential election on March 4 took place without bloodshed, reports Reuters. Lawyers for Odinga told the Supreme Court that the failure of an electronic system to transmit numbers from polling stations to a tallying centre and the breakdown of other equipment had undermined the chances of a transparent vote. “The voting system was prone to manipulation in the absence of electronic voter identification,” said Odinga’s lead counsel, George Oraro. “Tallying was manipulated to achieve certain results.”
The record 86 percent voter turnout was also suspect, he said, likening it to an election in a communist state.
The electoral commission has said its computer servers were overwhelmed and that it resorted to manual transmission of tallied ballots.
The official result was always going to depend on the manual tally, it says. The electronic system was designed to give a swift provisional result and avert the prospect of violence.
The commission has rejected claims of fraud and declared the vote free and fair. Its lawyers are expected to rebutt Odinga’s charges on Thursday, the final day of hearings.
Also at Wednesday’s hearing, a lawyer for civil organizations sought to annul the result on the grounds of fraud after the electronic system failed.
“The people who altered those results must be arrested and prosecuted in the most public manner possible,” Kethi Kilonzo said.
Saturday is the deadline for the court to announce its ruling on whether to uphold Kenyatta’s win or order another vote.