Monday 18 December 2017

Kenya election chief rejects opposition's hacking claims as protests erupt

Kenya election chief rejects opposition's hacking claims as protests erupt
(Reuters (Eng) 08/10/17)
Ezra Chiloba, election commission head

Kenya's election commission dismissed claims on Wednesday by opposition leader Raila Odinga that its systems and website had been hacked to produce a "fictitious" lead for Odinga's long-time rival President Uhuru Kenyatta.

Angry protests erupted in opposition strongholds in the capital Nairobi and the western city of Kisumu as the counting of votes from Tuesday's election continued, but the election commission said the election had been free and fair.

Police shot dead at least three people and protesters killed a fourth, witnesses said. Although the violence remained largely contained, Kenyans were nervously hoping to avoid a repetition of the ethnic killings that followed a disputed 2007 presidential poll, when some 1,200 people died.

As of 1900 GMT, provisional results from the election commission website put Kenyatta in front with 54.3 percent of votes counted to 44.8 percent for Odinga - a margin of 1.4 million ballots with 97 percent of polling stations reported.

Earlier Odinga published his own party's assessment of the count on Twitter, saying he had 8.1 million votes against 7.2 million for Kenyatta. He provided no supporting documentation.

"Our election management system is secure. There was no external interference to the system at any point before, during, and after voting," election commission head Ezra Chiloba told a news conference.

"The (hacking) claims being made could not be substantiated from our end," he said following an investigation.

Odinga had said hackers could have used the identity of a top election official, who was tortured and murdered days before the vote. His statements raised concerns of unrest over the results in Kenya, which has East Africa's biggest economy and is a regional hub.

Odinga posted 50 pages of computer logs online to support his hacking claims, but they were "inconclusive", according to Matt Bernhard, who studies computer security in election systems at the University of Michigan.

Some time stamps appeared out of order and it was hard to evaluate the veracity of screenshots without access to a server, he said.

Humphrey Malalo and Rajiv Golla

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