Vote count for Kenya’s presidential election enters day four | Kenya

Kenya’s election count dragged into its fourth day, after an election this week which pitted former Prime Minister Raila Odinga against Vice President William Ruto.

On Friday, the head of Kenya’s electoral commission blamed the slow progress on disruptions to political parties, which he said were treating the process as a “forensic audit”.

“Please don’t question the returning officers and don’t slow down the process,” electoral body president Wafula Chebukati said at a press briefing. “If we do that, we won’t be able to complete this exercise.”

The electoral commission has until August 16 to announce the results, but was expected to announce a winner within the week. Election monitors say the endless count is fueling public anxiety and misinformation. Unverified allegations of rigging began to surface.

“It is important that both political camps follow the legal mechanisms if there are concerns, without stirring up public emotions or indicating to the public that they should reject the outcome, as this amounts to public incitement,” said Javas Bigambo, a governance expert.

The country’s elections have been contested in its last three cycles. In 2017, the Supreme Court of Kenya ordered a repeat poll due to “widespread differences” and in 2007 a disputed result led to deadly post-election violence.

Reports show that public confidence in the electorate is only 26%. National media, political parties and the public conducted an independent vote count based on Data made available to the public by the electoral commission. Experts say the move boosted the body’s public image.

But parallel counts encountered some difficulties. Some public groups lacked the resources and manpower to sift through the data, and conflicting national media counts caused some initial public confusion as different outlets fought their way through the data.

Much to the frustration of the public, national media also unexpectedly halted their counts at the height of the count on Thursday, without explanation. Count by one main outlet had shown the race would come down to the wire, with Ruto and Odinga within a percentage point of each other with around 90% of the votes counted.

The electoral commission is the only body empowered to announce the results. Governance experts say that while media and public tallies are an important step towards transparency, an announcement by the electorate would carry more weight.

“The media does not yet have the capacity and the independence from the state that would allow them to call elections,” Bigambo said. “If they have completed their count before the IEBC [Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission], this would have put the IEBC under pressure to declare a winner before it had even completed its verification process. With our history, this could have led to a political catastrophe.

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