Friday, January 6, 2017

Kenya Senate Approves Electoral Law Changes Amid Fears of Rigging

Kenya’s Senate on Friday approved changes to election laws that would allow manual counting of ballot results, which the opposition calls a back door to rigging this year’s presidential vote.

President Uhuru Kenyatta is running again for the August election. He is now expected to sign the amendment bill into law.

The opposition coalition, led by former Prime Minister Raila Odinga and former Vice Presidents Musalia Mudavadi and Kalonzo Musyoka, said legislators of the ruling coalition in the Senate have “committed a great betrayal on the people of Kenya.” The opposition also accused the ruling coalition of casting fraudulent votes in Friday’s session.

Both parliament and the Senate held emergency meetings during the holiday break to pass the amendments to sections of the electoral law that had been reformed with bipartisan support just months ago, in August. Those reforms came after weeks of street protests by the opposition in which more than five people were shot dead by police.

This East African nation attempted to digitize its 2013 general elections in an effort to prevent the vote-rigging in 2007 that sparked violence killing more than 1,000 people. But voter identification kits to scan people’s fingers didn’t work properly and a server handling voting results crashed, resulting in the 2013 process being completed manually.

Odinga unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court challenging Kenyatta’s 2013 win, claiming the system was set up to fail to allow the more easily manipulated manual system. Kenyatta received a majority of votes to avoid a runoff with Odinga, by 4,099 votes out of more than 12.3 million cast.

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