By CHRISTOPHER TORCHIA and TOM ODULA, Associated Press
NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyans on Friday awaited the official results of Tuesday’s disputed election as hundreds of riot police patrolled Nairobi’s central business district and opposition supporters burned tires and blocked roads in several areas.
Kenya’s election commission has rejected claims by opposition leader Raila Odinga that its database was hacked and results manipulated against him, and that an unofficial tally confirms him as the winner. Provisional results show President Uhuru Kenyatta with a wide lead over the 72-year-old Odinga, who may be facing his last chance at the presidency after three unsuccessful attempts.
The election commission urged Kenyans to be patient and said it should have an update by mid-afternoon Friday, though the counting process has been repeatedly delayed. The long wait has increased tension in the East African economic power, though the commission by law has until Tuesday to announce the results.
The government urged citizens to return to work. Television and radio presenters echoed messages from the interior ministry saying the country was safe despite pockets of protests.
Opposition supporters burned tires and blocked roads in the Nairobi slum of Kibera and in Kisumu, a city in the southwest where Odinga has strong support. At least three people have been shot and killed during clashes between police and opposition supporters this week.
Odinga, a former prime minister, lost the 2007 election that was followed by violence fueled by ethnic tensions that killed more than 1,000 people. He also lost the 2013 vote to Kenyatta and took allegations of vote-tampering to the Supreme Court, which rejected his case.
This time, Odinga says hackers infiltrated the election commission’s computer system with the identity of a murdered election official and altered results to favor the 55-year-old Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first president after independence from British colonial rule. On July 31, officials announced that Christopher Msando, an election official in charge of managing information technology systems, had been tortured and killed.
The election commission says there was a hacking attempt but it failed, and that Odinga’s camp has no right to declare him as the winner.
“The constitution of Kenya is very clear — the only body that has the authority to announce, to actually organize, announce, tally the result is the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission of Kenya,” said Roslyn Akombe, a senior election official.
Election officials have been painstakingly trying to confirm their provisional results showing Kenyatta in the lead with checks of documents from polling stations nationwide.
Kenyatta has not commented on Odinga’s allegations.
International election observers say they have seen no signs of interference with the vote.
U.S. ambassador Robert F. Godec said the work of election officials should be not be disrupted as they tally final results and any disputes should be dealt with through legal channels.
“No Kenyan should die because of an election,” Godec said.