Independent experts to compute Kenyan presidential vote

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Kenya’s President Mwai Kibaki might be forced to stand down following Thursday’s order by the East African nation’s Attorney-General, Amos Wako, for a re-tabulation of the presidential vote, which saw him re-elected Sunday.

The vote tallying would preferably be done by an independent team of experts, who will be required to examine the election documents to detect cases of fraud, re-tally the votes and present their findings.

“The level of violence has never before been witnessed in our country,” Wako conceded as protesters battled with the police after they were denied access to the venue of Thursday’s opposition rally.

In a five-point statement, the Attorney-General said the level of violent protests witnessed in Kenya Thursday, a week after Kenyans went to the ballot to elect a new president, might get out of control forever unless precautionary measures were taken.

President Kibaki was due to address his first press conference since he named his first cabinet following the 2002 election victory.

“The vote tallying would be carried out immediately and on a priority basis and without a court order in order to reduce the level of violence,” Wako said.

Kenyan religious leaders Wednesday stepped up pressure for the government to accept a plea to have the final presidential vote re-tabulated to distinguish between the Orange Democratic Movement
(ODM) and Kibaki’s Party of National Unity (PNU).

Wako has waived the demand that an election petition must be presented to an election court before a constitutionally-elected President can be forced to stand down.

He said the crisis facing Kenya was of a political nature that required a political solution without the express demand for a legal obstacle.

President Kibaki’s party has previously said it would not consider negotiations on the possibilities of a recount or a national tally, saying nobody had the constitutional powers to extricate the election of a president unless ordered by the constitutional court.

The Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK) chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, who has termed the Commission “a culprit” in the election fiasco, has previously demanded that a full tally of the presidential vote be carried out by an independent team of experts.

Wako, who termed the on-going violence in Kenya a “national crisis”, said the election materials were public documents that could be presented to anybody for verification, without the express authority of the court and without an election petition.

Wako emphasised that the post-election catastrophe might degenerate into a national crisis.

“It is vital that while law enforcers are addressing the crisis, it is important that we address the circumstances that led to the present crisis,” he said.

The Attorney-General said prosecutions would ensue over the ongoing political violence.

“My appeal is to ensure we speak and act in a manner that recognizes all efforts that ensure we respect the individual interests,” he added.

The order for a re-tabulation of the 27 December votes came on the same day South African peacemaker, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, began moves to help resolve the dispute which the government said had claimed at least 177 lives.

Independent groups said the number of those killed in the violence were far higher.

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