Were the Kenyan Elections Conducted Successfully?

What Worked and What Didn’t

The Kenyan Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) prepare to announce election results at the Bomas of Kenya, in Nairobi, August 2017. Thomas Mukoya / REUTERS

On August 11, after a tense few days, incumbent Uhuru Kenyatta was declared winner of the August 8 presidential election in Kenya, defeating long-term rival Raila Odinga by 1.4 million votes. Kenyatta’s Jubilee Party also performed well throughout the elections, which involved six ballots for different levels of government, including the Parliament. In contrast, the opposition parties—grouped under Odinga’s National Super Alliance (NASA)—lost a number of parliamentary seats and key county gubernatorial races, which are especially important under Kenya’s devolved constitution.

In declaring the results, Wanyonyi Wafula Chebukati, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), the body responsible for running the polls, emphasized the success of the elections, which he hailed as “free, fair, and credible.” After two elections in 2007 and 2013 in which the outcome was rejected by the opposition, and against a background of vote manipulation that stretches back to the years of one-party rule, has Kenya finally, in Chebukati’s words, joined the “family of mature democracies that are able to conduct and deliver credible and fair elections”?


Odinga and his partners in NASA think not. Shortly before the final results were announced, the chair of the NASA campaign, Musalia Mudavadi, announced that the alliance was rejecting them and led a walkout of all NASA agents and politicians from the national tallying center. This denunciation came as part of a series of opposition press briefings, which began when Kenyatta had taken an early lead only a few hours after the close of the polls and which continue at the time of this writing. NASA first claimed that the results being released by the IEBC, which were supposed to be transmitted digitally from every one of Kenya’s 40,883 polling stations after the count, were being manipulated by the ruling party. At a second press conference, NASA produced what it claimed was a computer log showing that the IEBC server had been accessed using the login credentials of a senior IEBC official who had been gruesomely

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