Kenyan opposition warns of violence if Moi is re-elected

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The Independent Online
The crisis over Kenya's botched elections deepened yesterday after the two leading presidential candidates said that a victory for President Daniel arap Moi would lead to violence. Ed O'Loughlin reports from Nairobi

The National Development Party candidate, Raila Odinga, said that he believed state security agents were manipulating the electoral commission to ensure another victory for the President's Kenyan African National Union (Kanu), in power since 1963. Speaking after a meeting with Mr Moi's main rival, Mwai Kibaki of the Democratic Party, Mr Odinga said the opposition would not accept a victory for Mr Moi because the process was clearly fraudulent.

"It is clear that this [rigging] will lead to violence, to disaster," he said. "The people will not accept it and we shall not accept it."

Polling in the parallel presidential, parliamentary and civic elections began on Monday but had to be extended for an extra day after many voting stations failed to open on time and some failed to open at all. Many constituencies received the wrong ballot papers and there were widespread allegations of ballot stuffing, vote-buying and intimidation.

Yesterday, the British government added its voice to the chorus of concern. The junior minister at the foreign office, Tony Lloyd, said that reports of irregularities "raised question marks over the efficiency and credibility of the elections" in the former British territory.

Candidates opposed to Mr Moi, 73, have alleged that the irregularities and the extension of voting were part of a plan to facilitate vote rigging by Kanu. On Tuesday, Mr Moi responded by accusing the electoral commission of conspiring against him. Kanu, still the favourite to win, has stopped short of calling for the elections to be abandoned.

Yesterday, the chairman of the electoral commission, Samuel Kivuitu, told a press conference that while the commission had "lapsed in the logistics", its errors were not deliberate and it still considered the process to be free and fair. Asked if he would resign, he said with a hint of sarcasm: "Have you ever heard of anyone resigning in Kenya because of such things?"

Despite the confusion and queues at polling stations observers believe the turnout was between 65 and 80 per cent. Analysts say this could favour the opposition in the parliamentary elections, with many blaming Mr Moi for Kenya's declining economic prospects and rampant corruption and misrule.

With the opposition vote split between 14 different candidates Mr Moi is certain to come first in the presidential poll but he could face a run-off against the second placed candidate if he fails to win 25 per cent of the vote in any five of Kenya's eight provinces.