The Kenya presidential election stalemate took yet another interesting turn late Thursday, when the country’s electoral chief, Samuel Kivuitu, disowned the results which returned incumbent President Mwai Kibaki to power.
Kivuitu, Chairman of the Electoral Commission of Kenya (ECK), who announced the disputed results 30 December, said he was not well during the vote-tallying and did not participate in the exercise.
Kivuitu, a lawyer whose name has since been struck off the Law Society of Kenya (LSK) register for his ‘sins’, which plunged the country into chaos, distanced himself from the official results that were gazetted and published in the local media Thursday.
The ECK chairman said he was coerced into announcing the controversial results and took exception to the use of his name by the ECK officials, who put out the newspaper advertisements.
“I wish to say I did not submit this report or authorise my name to be used for its publication. The use of my name is a falsification,” he said.
“It seems like some outside force has pushed for its publication, otherwise whoever published it would have sought my consent for the use of my name,” he said.
The ECK Chairman’s action adds a new dimension to the imbroglio that has seen the African Union Chairman, John Kufuor of Ghana, step in as part of efforts to break the stalemate.
Kivuitu’s stand lends credence to an earlier decision by five of the 21 ECK commissioners, all appointees of the President, to disown the result.
The bone of contention is the presidential vote tally.
ECK declared Kibaki the winner with 4.5 million votes against the main opposition challenger, Raila Odinga’s 4.3 million votes.
Odinga, the Orange Democratic Movement presidential candidate, claimed the exercise was flawed and the polls rigged to favour Kibaki, an economist who once served as the Vice President in the administration of former President Mwai Kibaki.
Odinga, 63, a German-trained mechanical engineer and a son of Kenya first Vice President and freedom fighter, Jaramogi Oginga, insists he won the elections after garnering 4.2 million votes against Kibaki’s 3.7 million.
Odinga, who had initially demanded that Kibaki accepts defeat and steps down, has since toned down following high-level diplomatic intervention, headed by President Kufuor.
The opposition is now pushing for the formation of a coalition government, under terms agreed by both parties and overseen or supervised by the international mediators.
President Kufuor returned to Ghana Thursday after failing to bring the factions to the negotiating table.
A rather disappointed Kufuor told the press Thursday that both Kibaki and Odinga had agreed to work with a panel of prominent African leaders, led by former UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.
The post- election violence, which many Kenyans blame on a bad constitution which vests too much powers on the President, has culminated in the death of 500 people and displaced 250,000, with about 1,500 Kenyans fleeing into the neighbouring Uganda.
Cars, public transport vehicles were also burnt and homes, shops and businesses destroyed or set ablaze.
The business community is reporting massive losses running into billions of shillings.
Kenyans believe that the reconciliation effort that has seen four ex-African Heads of State – Kenneth Kaunda (Zambia), Joachim Chissano (Mozambique), Festus Mogae (Botswana) and Benjamin Mkapa (Tanzania)- team up with top US Africa envoy, Jendayi Frazer, to broker peace, will not go to waste.