Kenyan inquiry on vote rigging


Mark Huband in Nairobi

The Guardian, 30 December 1992


WIDESPREAD irregularities yesterday marred Kenya’s first multi-party election for 26 years and led the chairman of the country’s electoral commission to declare that polls in some constituencies will be cancelled.

No results are expected until later today and counting will take longer than expected because of the high turnout among the 7.5 million eligible voters.

The national election commission’s chairman, Zaccheous Chesoni, said he was aware of widespread poll irregularities, mainly in places where the seven opposition parties are likely to secure most votes. He said he was investigating whether rigging had taken place.

“There have been cases where parliamentary and presidential ballot-boxes have been mixed up, ballots from some constituencies have been found in others, and many polling stations opened late,” he said.

With three elections being held simultaneously – presidential, parliamentary and civic – there was potential for the deliberate misplacing of balIot papers by officials.

At Ngong, where the polling station opened two hours late to a queue of 2,000 agitated voters, illiterate voters had to state their intentions to officials in front of political party agents. Poll officials then crossed the ballot paper on the voter’s behalf.

More serious breaches of confidentiality stemmed from the voting procedure. Voters’ identity-card numbers are written on the voters registration cards. The registration card number is transferred to the counterfoil of the ballot paper, which bears a number that also appears on the counterfoil. It is therefore possible to trace how people have voted by matching the ballot-paper number with the identity card.

In central Nairobi an agent from the Ford-Kenya opposition party was arrested when he questioned the practice of officials filling in papers for people who were unable to complete them themselves.

© Guardian Newspapers Limited