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Kenya's electoral chief voices doubts on vote

Leaders pressured on deal for power

Email|Print| Text size + By Katharine Houreld
Associated Press / February 14, 2008

NAIROBI - Kenya's electoral chief compared the president to a notoriously corrupt predecessor yesterday and acknowledged that the December election may have been rigged.

The remarks came as negotiators sequestered themselves at a luxury game lodge to discuss political changes aimed at ending weeks of bloodshed over the disputed presidential vote. More than 1,000 Kenyans have died and 600,000 have fled their homes.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga accuses President Mwai Kibaki of stealing the Dec. 27 election, and domestic and international observers have said there was rigging - possibly by both sides. Odinga and Kibaki have been under pressure to share power as a solution.

The electoral commission chairman, Samuel Kivuitu, said it is possible the vote was tampered with. Kivuitu previously said that even though he declared Kibaki the winner, he was unsure who really won the election. He once was well respected, but has been ridiculed for that remark.

"There are many ways of rigging," Kivuitu said in an interview with independent Nation TV. "There are allegations. We don't know if they are true." He said that he had been too sick to oversee many parts of the process personally.

Kivuitu added that he had been struck by the speed with which the president and his entourage were ready for the swearing in, less than an hour after he had announced the results.

"It reminded me of the days of Moi," he said.

When Kibaki was first elected in 2002, he was welcomed as the antithesis of President Daniel arap Moi, accused of corruption and of plundering the state treasury for his and his cronies' benefit.

Kibaki's anticorruption reputation soon faded. He is now accused of ignoring graft in his administration, and shielding criminals from past years.

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