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Kenya’s Election 2022 - Petitioners head to court amid claims of system hacking, manipulation

Kenya , 29 Aug 2022

Nine petitions contesting the outcome of Kenya’s recent general election have been filed with the country’s Supreme Court, with several claimants arguing the voter system deployed by Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) was breached and results altered.

An excerpt from the affidavit filed by Kenya’s opposition leader Raila Odinga against IEBC Chairman Wafula Chebukati, reads: “In contravention of the constitutional law, the electoral process and system did not meet the following five tests of a secure and transparent system and were deliberately or negligently set to fail the tests and allow for easy and fraudulent manipulation.”

The legal document makes reference to the arrest of three Venezuelan nationals in July this year, who were alleged to have been found with “sensitive IEBC material” when they entered the country weeks before the election.

A separate report by the Director of Criminal Investigations (DCI) confirmed the arrests and specified that the material discovered included details of access to IEBC systems and the voter register.

However, the IEBC released a statement which explained the three people detained were contracted by the Commission and are working together with Smartmatic Inc, a company officially outsourced to provide technology systems for the elections.

System scrutiny

The IEBC voter register has come under much scrutiny, both in the lead up to the election and also during the process itself.

Following a damning report by global accounting and audit firm KPMG in April 2022 which exposed the weaknesses of the voter register - including the presence of unknown administrators, the IEBC said they had sealed all loopholes and were ready for the general elections.

However, a second report from KPMG, released just days before the election, has been cited in another petition.

According to claimant Khelef Khalifa the IEBC electronic systems did not meet acceptable standards and the second KPMG report was not made public in its entirety.

While some IEBC officials have distanced themselves from the election results and openly said the system was breached and results altered, Chairman Chebukati filed a response affidavit which stated that the elections were conducted and announced lawfully.

He added that representatives from Smartmatic Inc. have been subject to intimidation.

Petitioners are awaiting the outcome of their applications to the Supreme Court.

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