Kenya’s presidential election, planned to be held in a week’s time, has been marred by fears of a turmoil as a senior electoral official, responsible for managing anti-fraud systems in the hotly contested vote, has been found tortured and killed in the capital Nairobi.
Wafula Chebukati, the electoral commission chairman, said Monday that the body of Christopher Msando had injuries to the neck and head when he was found. The slain official was in charge of managing information technology systems at the electoral commission and had been missing for several days.
Chebukati called on police to increase measures meant to protect members of the IEBC, the electoral commission, as fears grow that the vote could turn violent over accusations of fraud. “We are demanding government provide security to all IEBC staff,” Chebukati said, adding, “This is a brutal murder of our employee and we are demanding to know who killed him and why.”
Some 1,000 people were killed after the 2007 presidential vote that international observers said had serious cases of irregularities. The upcoming vote on August 8 is also prone to violence as reports indicate that none of the two main candidates, incumbent president Uhuru Kenyatta and his main rival Raila Odinga, can afford to lose. Kenyatta has repeatedly denied accusations leveled by the opposition that he wants to use force to rig the elections.
Msando led a key project in the IEBC to use biometric technology to identify voters and electronic transmission of results. That means a reduced chance for fraud and Msando had consistently sought to reassure voters that the election results would not be tampered with.
Chebukati said a test run of the technology had been planned for Monday but it was postponed as Msando played a crucial role in the process. Kenya is preparing for the election as the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab militant group, based in neighboring Somalia, has threatened to launch attacks in Kenya to undermine the election.
The militants have carried out several high-profile attacks in Kenya in the past in retaliation against Nairobi’s military contribution to a regional anti-Shabab drive in Somalia.