Kenyan Opposition Rejects Vote Tally Showing Incumbent Ahead

Kenya’s opposition presidential candidate Raila Odinga rejected preliminary election results that show President Uhuru Kenyatta has a commanding lead and demanded the electoral authority stop releasing results until it can provide supporting documentation.

With votes from almost 90 percent of polling stations counted, Kenyatta has 54.6 percent, compared with 44.5 percent for his main rival, according to the Independent Electoral & Boundaries Commission’s website. Odinga said the figures aren’t supported by Form 34A — documents from polling stations that detail the results.

“These results are fictitious, fake,” Odinga said in a televised briefing. “We therefore reject all the results streamed so far and demand that the IEBC produces Form 34As from all the polling stations before any further results are announced.”

Odinga and Kenyatta are vying to lead a country that ranks among the five biggest economies in sub-Saharan Africa, is the world’s largest exporter of black tea, and is a regional hub for companies including Google Inc. and Coca-Cola Co. The opposition leader’s statement raises the prospect of him challenging the final outcome of the vote — as he’s done in the past two elections.

A dispute over the results of Kenya’s presidential elections in 2007 led to two months of ethnic fighting that left more than 1,100 people dead and forced 350,000 more to flee their homes. The upheaval also caused economic growth to slow to 1.7 percent in 2008 from 7.1 percent a year earlier.
‘Loser Reaction’

“Really for investors the only part of the election that matters is how the loser reacts to the declared results,” said Hasnain Malik, global head of equities research at Exotix Capital.

IEBC spokesman Andrew Limo didn’t answer his phone when Bloomberg called him seeking comment, while IEBC Commissioner Roselyn Akombe said the authority would issue a statement later on Wednesday.

Kenyatta had the backing of 47 percent of voters nationally compared to Odinga’s 44 percent in the run-up to the election, pollster Ipsos Kenya said Aug. 1. Infotrak, another Nairobi-based pollster, put Odinga in the lead with 49 percent against Kenyatta’s 48 percent.

A Kenyatta victory will probably trigger protests by opposition supporters, with Odinga likely to either take his grievances to court, as he did in 2013, or escalate the issue on the streets and try to force a negotiated settlement, said Jared Jeffery, an analyst at Paarl, South Africa-based NKC African Economics.

If Kenyatta wins, “there will be protests and it will be up to Mr. Odinga to decide whether they end in violence,” Jeffery said. “Whatever the result, Mr. Odinga will have to show leadership.”