Kenya’s electoral commission has denied opposition claims its IT system had been hacked in order to manipulate Tuesday’s election results.
Chief electoral officer Ezra Chiloba told reporters the systems were not compromised at any point.
He spoke out after presidential candidate Raila Odinga rejected provisional results indicating a strong lead for President Uhuru Kenyatta.
The opposition’s claim led to sporadic outbreaks of violence.
Mr Chiloba said his team had “established that the claims being made could not be substantiated”.
He added: “I wish to take this opportunity to confirm that our elections management system is secure. There were no external or internal interference to the system at any point before, during or after the voting.”
His comments were made amid repeated calls for calm. Many fear a repeat of the violence after the disputed election 10 years ago when more than 1,100 Kenyans died and 600,000 were displaced.
After this year’s vote, two protesters were shot dead in Nairobi, where police also fired tear gas at crowds who burned tyres and blocked roads throughout the day.
The city’s police chief Japheth Koome said the young men had tried to “attack our officers with pangas (machetes) and that’s when the officers opened fire on them”, according to news agency AFP.
In another incident, regional police chief Larry Kieng confirmed officers killed two men in the western town of Kisumu, an opposition stronghold.
They were allegedly part of a gang which attacked a vote tallying station, stabbing one man. The motive was not known.
What do provisional results say?
Raw polling data published on the website of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) says that with almost 97% of results in, Mr Kenyatta – who is seeking a second term – is leading with about 54.3%, to Mr Odinga’s 44.8% share of the vote.
These suggest Mr Kenyatta is heading for a first-round victory.
However, it has been emphasised by the IEBC that these results are preliminary, and have yet to be certified officially.
But Mr Odinga said in a tweet that his party’s own assessment put him ahead of Mr Kenyatta.
He alleged hackers had gained access to the IEBC computer system by using the identity of the commission’s IT manager, Chris Msando, who was killed last month.
Observers from the African Union and the European Union among others issued a joint statement urging political parties “to use the legally provided channels of dispute resolution in case of any dissatisfaction with the process”, adding that police should “avoid excessive use of force”.
They also said the IEBC should carry out the tallying process “with full integrity and transparency”.
Speaking to the BBC, John Mahama, former president of Ghana and head of the Commonwealth Observer Mission in Kenya, said the responsibility to maintain calm fell to the two leading candidates.
“They can take Kenya down the slippery slope of violence like in 2007, or they can both rise to the occasion and let Kenya surmount this democratic hurdle and become one of the leading democracies in Africa,” he said.
The commission has not said when it will publish the final results. Legally, it has to announce the results within seven days of polling stations closing.
Kenya’s election in numbers:
- Six separate ballot papers: For president, national assembly, female representatives, governors, senate and county assemblies
- 47 parliamentary seats and 16 senate seats reserved for women
- Eight presidential candidates: President Uhuru Kenyatta and opposition leader Raila Odinga are favourites
- Kenyatta beat Odinga in 2013 – their fathers were also political rivals in the 1960s
- A candidate needs 50% plus one vote for first-round victory
- More than 14,000 candidates running across the six elections
- More than 45% of registered voters under 35
- Some 180,000 security officers on duty nationwide in case of trouble
~ Salvador Dali