December 30, 1997 in Nation/World

Kenya Election In Turmoil Voting Extended, Opposition Says Government Rigging Polls

Stephen Buckley Washington Post
 

Numerous irregularities marred Kenya’s general elections Monday, forcing officials to extend voting to a second day and prompting opposition parties to accuse the government of rigging the poll.

Lost ballot boxes and an insufficient number of ballots at many polling stations caused dozens to open late, leaving thousands of Kenyans to wait hours before casting their votes. Some stations still had not received ballots and boxes by late afternoon.

President Daniel arap Moi, 73, an authoritarian ruler who took power in 1978, is battling 12 rivals in this East African country’s second multi-party election in three decades.

The last such vote took place in 1992, after Moi restored a multi-party system the year before.

Monday’s events heightened fears that Kenya - which is one of sub-Saharan Africa’s more stable states but has been subject to international accusations of corruption and mismanagement - could see long-term political turmoil if its 9 million voters perceive that the election was rigged, political analysts and diplomats said.

Kenya’s 1992 election was marked by similar irregularities, and international observers characterized that process as seriously flawed.

In addition to the presidential contest, 210 seats in the National Assembly were being contested Monday.

Most of the irregularities in the election, monitored by some 27,000 independent observers spread throughout 12,700 voting sites, occurred in areas known to be opposition strongholds.


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