Kenyan lawmakers scuffle amid fears of election-rigging

AP News
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Posted: Dec 22, 2016 9:12 AM

NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) — Kenyan legislators came to blows Thursday as opposition members tried to block an emergency session that passed a bill to allow manual counting of election results, calling it a back door to manipulating next year's presidential vote.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga called for mass protests from Jan. 4, saying, "No transparency, no elections."

The deputy minority leader in parliament, Jakoyo Midiwo, said they are challenging the bill's legality. "They are trying to force a law to rig the elections," Midiwo said.

The bill now needs approval by President Uhuru Kenyatta, who is running for re-election.

This East African nation tried to digitize its election process in the 2013 general elections in an effort to prevent the vote-rigging in 2007 that sparked violence killing more than 1,000 people. But biometric kits to scan people's fingers didn't work properly and a server handling voting results crashed, resulting in the process being completed manually.

Odinga unsuccessfully petitioned the Supreme Court challenging Kenyatta's 2013 win, claiming the system was set up to fail to allow the more easily manipulated manual tallying and voting. Kenyatta received a majority of votes to avoid a runoff with Odinga, but he did so by only 4,099 votes out of more than 12.3 million cast.

Odinga is Kenyatta's closest challenger in the upcoming election. Kenyatta leads Odinga 50 percent to 22 percent in a recent opinion poll.