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Sunday, December 30, 2007

Kenyan Elections

Kenyans went to the polls in underreported and yet very important elections. As of now, final results are still not known...

KENYA'S electoral board is expected to announce the winner of the presidential election amid claims of vote rigging and riots as the lead of opposition candidate Raila Odinga evaporated in the slow ballot counting.

The delay in counting the ballots in Thursday's election sparked violence nationwide, which claimed at least three lives on Saturday, as angry Odinga supporters accused incumbent President Mwai Kibaki of rigging the vote results.

Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) chief Samuel Kivuitu said Saturday that the latest count showed Mr Odinga's once clear lead of over 300,000 votes had melted away to less than 40,000 votes, with just 19 out of the 210 constituencies left to report.

Mr Odinga had held the edge over Mr Kibaki in nearly all pre-election opinion polls and enjoyed a clear lead in the early counting, and voters dealt Mr Kibaki's Party of National Unity a series of stinging defeats in parliamentary elections also held on Thursday.

What is different about these elections is three fold. It has international observers to make sure that they are as fair as possible. Those observers have reported that they have found no incidents of fraud and finally the ruling party has a legitimate chance of being voted out.

While many instances of elections have spawned optimism of real change in many parts of the world from Syria, to Ukraine, to Palestine only to have the reality of governance deal that hope a blow, I do believe this occurrence is one to be viewed with optimism.

Of course, that optimism should be tempered. In a place like Kenya, when I say the elections were fair and without fraud, that is a relative term

The Foreign Secretary, David Miliband, made a statement on the violence surrounding the Kenyan elections.

'We are disturbed at the violence surrounding the elections. The British Government calls for an end to the violence, respect for the democratic process and for all Kenyan leaders to act responsibly. This is a pivotal moment for Kenya. It is vital that the entire election process meets the expectations of the Kenyan electorate. The international community hopes that Kenya will live up to both the letter and the spirit of its democratic principles.'


Just as I was writing this, I noticed that I was initially inaccurate. The results are in and the incumbent has won a narrow victory.

MWAI KIBAKI - 4,585,721 (46.7%) (~32.3% of the registered 14.2 m voters)
RAILA ODINGA - 4,352,993 (44.3%) (~30.7% of the registered 14.2 m voters)
KALONZO MUSYOKA -879,903 (9%) (~6.2% of the registered 14.2 m voters)
Kibaki winning marging - 231,728 votes

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