Kenyan presidential candidate fears 'rigged' election
NAIROBI, Kenya — Kenya's top two presidential candidates held their final rallies before large and raucous crowds on Saturday, a day of political attacks and denials following published comments attributed to the prime minister that election violence could be worse than in 2007-08.
The vote on Monday will be the first nationwide election since Kenya's December 2007 vote devolved into tribe-on-tribe violence that killed more than 1,000 people. Kenyan leaders and community groups have been working to ensure that violence isn't repeated, but fears linger that bloodshed will reappear.
The Financial Times in a story on Saturday quoted Prime Minister Raila Odinga — one of the two top presidential candidates — as saying he knows his opponents are planning to rig the vote and “I have warned them the consequences may be worse than last time round. The people will not stomach another rigging.”
Odinga denied making the statement and told a stadium full of supporters that the story was a “total fabrication.” He said his campaign would petition the courts if it felt the results were problematic. An earlier statement said Odinga felt “absolutely slandered.”
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta — Odinga's top challenger — called Odinga's words “dangerous and inflammatory” and he called on Odinga to retract them.
“We have in public, and our words and deeds throughout this election — all of us presidential candidates — committed to campaign in this election in peace, and just as importantly, to accept the result in peace,” Kenyatta said. “So then why is it that at the most delicate time in the election campaign Raila sought to use such dangerous, inflammatory words?”
Rigging and cheating are a part of Kenyan elections, though international observers say they believe an improved electoral system will make wide-spread cheating harder this time.
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