Thursday, January 03, 2008

Kenya's elections | Twilight robbery, daylight murder | Economist.com

Kenya's elections | Twilight robbery, daylight murder | Economist.com: "THE decision to return Kenya's 76-year-old incumbent president, Mwai Kibaki, to office was not made by the Kenyan people but by a small group of hardline leaders from Mr Kibaki's Kikuyu tribe. They made up their minds before the result was announced, perhaps even before the opposition candidate, Raila Odinga, had opened up a lead in early returns from the December 27th election. It was a civil coup.

The planning was meticulous. All that was needed were the extra votes to squeak past Mr Odinga in what had been among the most closely contested elections Africa had ever seen. That was why returns from Central Province, Mr Kibaki's fiercely loyal Kikuyu heartland, were inexplicably held back. It was why, in some constituencies, a large number of voters seemed mysteriously to vote only in the presidential race and ignore the parliamentary ballot—despite waiting hours in the blazing sun. But the real damage was done in Nairobi, by simply crossing out the number of votes as announced in the constituency and scribbling in a higher number. Election monitors were turned away while the tallying went on. Monitors from the European Union saw tens of thousands of votes pinched in this way.

Mr Odinga's supporters were not innocent either. There were irregularities in his home province of Nyanza. Still, it wasthe meddling in Central Province that was decisive. Officially, Mr Kibaki won 4.58m votes to Mr Odinga's 4.35m. A third candidate, Kalonzo Musyoka, won 880,000 votes. Unofficially, Mr Odinga may have won, albeit by a similarly narrow margin."

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