Kenya’s election board chief issued an emotional statement late Friday, describing the violence directed at his poll workers and commission staff while appealing for peace amid the chaotic election process.
“Yesterday some of my staff were hijacked and some were tortured,” said Wafula Chebukati, chairman of the Independent Election and Boundaries Commission (IEBC). “Some had their homes broken into and looted. Others were forbidden and violently prevented from reporting to their polling stations and were literally chased away.”
Some election workers took refuge in police stations, while others have gone into hiding, Chebukati said in his statement. “Today I am sad to announce to you that in spite of all the assurances of security, some innocent Kenyans still lost their lives,” he added.
Voting planned for Saturday was suspended in 27 constituencies, including the volatile Kisumu districts. They account for some 1.8 million voters. Scheduling complications also arose at six other locations, as angry Kenyans increasingly split along ethnic and tribal lines in their support of the candidates.
All told, some eight people have died in the last two days. Sky News said 86 people have been arrested and six police officers seriously injured in the electoral violence. Parts of the Kawangware district in Nairobi remained volatile as protesters lined the streets, while deaths were reported in Kisumu, Homa Bay and Machakos counties.
Results early Saturday reflected a low turnout with just over 443,000 votes for President Uhuru Kenyatta and slightly more than 6,300 for Nasa opposition candidate Raila Odinga, whose party and supporters are boycotting the second election. Kenya’s High Court overturned the results of an August 8 election that gave Kenyatta a victory at the beginning of September, making the new election necessary.