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There's A 'Tense But Calm' Atmosphere In Nairobi As Kenyans Wait For The Election Results


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- Garreth Van Niekerk | HuffPost SouthAfrica
Five civilians from Kenya's slums have reportedly been killed, with others hurt, amid reports of escalating violence in the run-up to the announcement of Kenya's election results. Kenyan police are reportedly responsible for the violent attacks, a South African correspondent in Kenya told HuffPost SA on Thursday.

"There were reports of violence yesterday and we went to one of the Nairobi slums, called Mathare, to investigate." said Carien du Plessis from Nairobi. "There we found groups of young people throwing stones at police, who were pushing them back by firing tear gas. The clashes were sporadic and involved small groups of mainly youth. We heard afterwards that two were shot dead [police said they were thieves] and five injured, and I think about three people were shot dead elsewhere in the country in similar clashes."

The news comes shortly after Kenyan presidential challenger Raila Odinga made claims on Twitter and national television that hackers had rigged the election results, which were due to be announced this weekend.

With 98% of stations reporting, Kenyan president Uhuru Kenyatta is currently in the lead with 54.32% of the votes to Odinga's 44.8%.

Hundreds of international election observers have been monitoring the election processes, with former United States secretary of state John Kerry saying on Thursday afternoon that Kenya's ability to secure its voting system "appears to be very, very strong".

The election commission said the voting system was secure and that there were "no interferences before, during and after" Tuesday's election.

Former South Africa president Thabo Mbeki, the head of the African Union Elections Observer Mission, said on Thursday that the AU could get involved in investigations if the Kenyan government requested it, according to News24. But he said complaints should be laid with the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which is the correct procedure to follow.

Mbeki did express concern regarding the "inflexible" way the votes were counted, saying the ballot should be accepted if the voter's intentions were clear, even if 10 percent of their tick did fall outside the box. Voter education is needed to get it right, he said.

For now the atmosphere is "tense calm" in Nairobi, said Du Plessis. "This whole week Nairobi was very quiet though, as many people were given the week off work or asked to work from home. Some people, including expats, decided to leave the country for the week and go on holiday instead. Many businesses were closed on election day as well as the day after, mostly because it's quiet and it was a holiday. People are adopting a wait-and-see attitude about possible protests and violence, but most I've spoken to wanted a peaceful election and don't want a repeat of 2007-2008."

The violence after that election reportedly left at least 1,200 people dead, also at the hands of police.

The International Criminal Court laid charges against Kenyatta and Deputy President William Ruto for the brutality, but the crimes against humanity charges against them were withdrawn for want of evidence, the Hague-based court said in December 2014.

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