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Interview with Raila Odinga

The Chronic interviewed Raila Amollo Odinga at his Karen residence on the morning of 13 March 2013. He had held a press conference shortly after Issack Hassan, the chairman of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, had announced Uhuru Kenyatta’s victory. Odinga told the press that he rejected the outcome of the elections, declared that democracy in Kenya was on trial and pledged to fight the outcome in court. As Kenyatta’s victory became the focus of media attention, Odinga’s absence suggested not so much a disappearance from public view as a systematic erasure. During the interview, Odinga was surprisingly relaxed, even as he gave us his version of what had transpired.

 Excerpts:

RAO: We weren’t convinced that IEBC was prepared for the elections. We did write and put our concerns on paper. The IEBC never responded. We didn’t even realise that it was by design not default.

CHRONIC: But you do have people in the IEBC. What were they telling you?

 RAO: The IEBC has internal problems. The procurement of the biometric kits was bungled. The commissioners got themselves involved in procurement. They were travelling to India, to Europe, to Canada – purportedly to verify the kits. Then there was no time to assess the quality of the kits… the whole thing was a big mess.

CHRONIC: How did it fit into the plan?

 RAO: A French company offered to supply the electronic transmission kits.

CHRONIC: When you began to see the electronic transmission of results, which showed a statistically impossible graph, what was your reaction?

 RAO: They hired a group of students from the University of Nairobi who would get the results, doctor them and transmit them to the IEBC. The company that was hosting the IEBC was also hosting TNA [The National Alliance]. That is why there was that constant gap in the electronic results. They had hacked into the IEBC server. They changed the data in the Jubilee site and automatically changed the IEBC results on their server. The students they had hired would phone returning officers in advance, who would then doctor the results by a certain proportion… So that the things the ROs were coming back with from the field basically was what was generated by the students. But they could not change the results at the polling stations. Yesterday [13 March], when we went to court to demand that the IEBC produces the results from the polling stations, the NSIS sent people to the IEBC to try and change the Form 36s. They were doing this yesterday. It has just been confirmed to me by [a Senior IEBC official] this morning. He disagreed with [another Senior official].

But they did not know how to cover their tracks. Do some simple arithmetic – and this is information from the IEBC itself. Add the total votes received for the councillors countrywide, senators, governors, women’s reps MPs, and the president. They should all tally. Minus spoilt ballots they should arrive at the same totals. But you find that there is a gap of about 1,5 million between the presidential votes and the rest.

The total for the presidential went up by almost two million votes with only five constituencies left on Friday night; meaning that 1,5 million people went to the polling booth and only voted for the president. But the question is what happened to those spoilt votes?

When the electronic system failed and they announced that they were going to go manual, the law says that the results are transmitted electronically and that the manual results are only there to verify the electronic results. Now, in the absence of the electronic transmission you must go back to the source, which is the polling stations – Form 34. You then need to use Form 34 of the polling station to verify.

And they had agreed to this. So we sent our clerk. In two hours they had done 16 constituencies and had found anomalies in five – Belgut, Sotik, Chepalungu, Gatundu South and one constituency in Murang’a.The turnouts in those constituencies were over 100 percent. So we asked what they were going to do about this… they broke off. They returned and we said that it had taken two hours to deal with 16 constituencies. We said they needed to speed it up. So we suggested that they increase the [number of agents]. They consulted for another half an hour. When they came back, the chairman himself came and said that “these people are slowing the tallying exercise so therefore they should get out of the hall”. So they got police officers and the agents were ejected.

CHRONIC: Ejected by the police?

 RAO: Yeah. Physically ejected by the police and these are members of parliament. So they locked themselves in and they now were getting the results and reading them without consulting the agents. So I called the agents… and asked them to go and look for the press and go and storm the place. But we found that the place was locked and that the police were there.

CHRONIC: This is on Wednesday 6 March?

 RAO: Yes, Wednesday. They were blocked completely from accessing. And they proceeded to read the results. I called Hassan and told him that this was illegal – that it was mandatory that every candidate be represented by agents in the tallying process. He was very civil [but nothing changed]… I’ve never seen a thing like that. It’s a sham, a big sham… And even after they had done all this they still could not get the 50 per cent plus 1 figure, which is why they now had to manipulate the figures on paper. There are 83,000 votes of ours which were not posted and then 36,000 added to the other side from nowhere to get that 50.07 per cent figure. Even by their own figures, it was still coming to 49.7 per cent [for Kenyatta] – and that was all in the last night.

Remember, initially they were saying it was 50.03 per cent. Ultimately it came to 50.07 per cent. [Laughs]

The actual, proper results are that Uhuru is 4,6-something million against 5,4-something million of ours. That is the actual result.

CHRONIC: How do you know that number?

 RAO: From our own tallies. You can confirm it if you subtract the 1,5 million which are over and above the real tallies. Then add 83,000 of ours which they did not post.

CHRONIC: What happened to the findings by one of the commissioners who said on Thursday night that there would be an audit of 281,000 votes which had gone missing from your side?

 RAO: We beat them by over a million. That’s what the exit polls showed. Al Jazeera called me to congratulate me after they heard. Those exit polls came from three different companies.

CHRONIC: There were rumours that you were demanding to form a Government of National Unity?

 RAO: There was a lot of disinformation. Kenyatta’s people have been coming to me, emissaries, telling me that they want to make me an elder statesman, that they can give me a 50-50 share of the cabinet, ambassadorial appointments [laughs]… I mean, if this is allowed to stand, then there will be no point of having elections in the future.

One of my partners now is SK Macharia. He will tell you that last time [2007] there were only 35 constituencies left to be announced. After they had added all the results, I was going to beat Kibaki by 600,000 votes. So they now put emergency measures. All these returning officers were put in a room and he was in that room – he can tell you that himself. And they produced 900,000 votes so that Kibaki ended up beating me by 300,000 votes. That’s how they did it! [Laughs]

CHRONIC: Where do we go from here? We rely on the courts and see whether your petition is upheld…

 RAO: There are two options for the courts. One is to nullify the entire elections. We don’t think the courts will do that. But the least that the courts can do is nullify the presidential elections and call for a re-run. The question for us is whether this election commission is credible enough to supervise another election.

CHRONIC: The presiding mood at the moment is of a fait accompli

 RAO: This is what they are trying to present it as, that the country should now move on. But you can see that there is a funereal mood all over the country. If there was a victory, why isn’t the country celebrating? You go to Mombasa, in Nairobi here, in Nakuru, in Kisumu, in Kakamega – all across the rural areas.

Yesterday I sent word to Kibera that I was coming to greet the people – just about half an hour before I went there. When I arrived there, we were supposed to have the meeting in the DO’s compound, but the crowd was too big and when they came to the meeting place, the people were weeping. I have never seen such emotions. They didn’t know how I had taken it all. But right now the situation is very, very tense. The only thing keeping it all quiet is the call that I made that we are going to court. The people are hoping there will be justice from the courts.

 

CHRONIC ISSUE 2This article was originally published in the Chronic (March 2013).

In this issue, artists and writer from around the world take on the philanthropic complex to unravel the philosophies of dependency and power at play in the civil society of African states. To read the article in full get a copy in our online shop or visit your nearest stockists.
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