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Viewing cable 08NAIROBI199, KENYA: DID KIBAKI REALLY STEAL THE ELECTION?

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Reference ID Created Released Classification Origin
08NAIROBI199 2008-01-17 17:05 2011-03-01 21:09 UNCLASSIFIED Embassy Nairobi
VZCZCXYZ0001
RR RUEHWEB

DE RUEHNR #0199/01 0171703
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
R 171703Z JAN 08
FM AMEMBASSY NAIROBI
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC 4287
INFO RUEHXR/RWANDA COLLECTIVE
RUEHLO/AMEMBASSY LONDON 2580
RUEHFR/AMEMBASSY PARIS 2506
UNCLAS NAIROBI 000199 
 
SIPDIS 
QENSITIVE 
 
SIPDIS 
 
DEPT FOR AF/E 
LONDON AND PARIS FOR AFRICA WATCHERS 
 
E.O. 12958:N/A 
TAGS: PGOV KCOR PREL KE
SUBJECT: KENYA: DID KIBAKI REALLY STEAL THE ELECTION? 
 
REF: A. Doherty-AF/E e-mail of 09 Jan 08 
      B. Nairobi 0013 
 
Sensitive-but-Unclassified.  Please handle accordingly. 
 
1.  (SBU) Summary: Kenya's hotly contested December 27 presidential 
election has been controversial on a number of levels, and many 
observers still question who actually won.  When we looked at any and 
all available data to try to answer that question, we found evidence 
of rigging on both sides and confirmation that some of the rigging 
took place inside ECK headquarters itself.  By analyzing various 
datasets (available on request), we developed scenarios that could 
point to either a Kibaki or a Raila victory.  We do not think it will 
ever be possible to tell definitively who actually won the election. 
This is due in part to the compromise of election officials and 
election-related ballots and forms, but also because our estimated 
number of "ghost votes" (i.e., stuffed ballots) from both sides 
easily exceeded President Kibaki's margin of victory.  End summary. 
 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
PNU Steals Votes for Kibaki at 11th Hour at KICC... 
--------------------------------------------- ------ 
 
2.  (SBU) Ref B provides the context for the disputed results of 
Kenya's December 27 presidential election, in which incumbent 
President Mwai Kibaki was announced the winner by the Electoral 
Commission of Kenya (ECK) late in the afternoon of December 31, and 
then immediately sworn in as president.  Raila Odinga of the Orange 
Democratic Movement (ODM) continues to insist that he in fact won the 
election.  Specifically, he claims that he was cheated out of the 
presidency when a politicized and/or compromised ECK leadership 
altered constituency-level vote tally sheets in the tense days 
between the closure of polls late on December 27 and the 
controversial announcement of results in Kibaki's favor on December 
30.  Right or wrong, the perception of an election brazenly stolen by 
the incumbent administration was the initial spark for tribally-based 
attacks and mass demonstrations that have since left over 600 Kenyans 
dead and the country embroiled in a major, unresolved political 
crisis. 
 
-------------------------------------------- 
...But Did it Provide the Margin of Victory? 
-------------------------------------------- 
 
3.  (SBU) There is little doubt that there were major irregularities 
in the way constituency vote tallies were received, verified and 
reported by the ECK in Nairobi between December 28 and December 30, 
and there appears little doubt that the cheating that took place at 
this level was done so exclusively by Party of National Unity (PNU) 
partisans in Kibaki's favor.  There was cheating at the constituency 
level by the ODM and PNU.  An interesting question arises: 
Numerically, did this unprecedented form of central-level, 11th hour 
cheating in fact make the difference in who won and who lost?  In 
other words, in taking into account all the data available, was the 
cheating that occurred at KICC significant enough numerically to 
provide the margin of victory for Kibaki?  The answer has important 
implications for how the current crisis might be resolved. 
 
----------------------------------------- 
A Major Caveat About Local-Level Cheating 
----------------------------------------- 
 
4.  (SBU) An important caveat hangs over the analysis below, and over 
the election results more generally.  This is that despite praise 
from all quarters that election day voting was generally free and 
fair, in fact there is strong circumstantial evidence indicating that 
more traditional forms of cheating, such as ballot stuffing at 
polling stations and/or constituency-level tallying centers, probably 
played an important role in determining the final results of the 2007 
presidential election.  This was possible because despite the 
extensive monitoring, there were no party agents or international 
observers at many polling stations and vote tallying centers (and 
domestic observation that was more widespread was of mixed 
reliability).  In Kenya, it is very unlikely that a voter would cast 
a presidential ballot and not a parliamentary one.  Yet there were 
significant discrepancies in six of Kenya's eight provinces between 
votes cast for parliament vs. those cast for president. 
 
5.  (SBU) These discrepancies total 459,100 votes, or 4.6 percent of 
all votes cast, dwarfing Kibaki's margin of victory (230,478 votes, 
or 2.3 percent of all votes cast).  It is impossible to conclude 
definitely how many of these "ghost votes" went to each candidate, 
but the margin of uncertainty these extra votes create easily exceeds 
Kibaki's margin of victory. 
 
6.  (SBU) But in moving back to trying to determine how many votes 
were "stolen" at the central level after polls closed and the results 
were being returned to Nairobi, it is critical to find credible 
discrepancies between the presidential vote tallies unofficially 
disclosed at the constituency-level tallying centers the night of 
December 27, and the official results announced by the ECK in Nairobi 
in the days thereafter.  Significant discrepancies would indicate 
that the results were doctored enroute to, or after arriving in 
Nairobi, as per the claims of ODM and others.  To try to quantify 
these discrepancies, Post gathered polling data from a variety of 
sources and ran the numbers in several different ways, each discussed 
below. 
 
--------------------------------- 
The Official Results: Kibaki Wins 
--------------------------------- 
 
7.  (SBU) The official ECK documentary results show Kibaki winning 
4,583,358 votes to Raila's 4,352,880, for a margin of victory of 
230,478. (Note: This dataset comes from hardcopy tally sheets for all 
constituencies obtained from ECK sources on January 4.  These results 
vary from the ECK results verbally announced December 28-30, but the 
difference is insignificant - a victory for Kibaki that is 1,363 
votes narrower.  End note.)  This dataset forms the baseline against 
which others below are compared for signs of discrepancies. 
 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
The Standard Newspaper: Kibaki Wins, But by Less 
--------------------------------------------- --- 
 
8.  (SBU) A spreadsheet obtained January 4 from the Standard 
Newspaper (which was considered pro-Odinga) reports unofficial 
results gathered by Standard journalists at the constituency tallying 
centers on the night of December 27.  The Standard dataset has 
results for all but 12 of 210 constituencies, and in 117 
constituencies, the results match those of the ECK. Comparison 
against official ECK results shows significant discrepancies (500 or 
more added votes) in 35 constituencies in Kibaki's favor totalling 
191,894.  But these gains are counterbalanced to a large extent by 
the 149,579 votes inexplicably gained by Raila, indicating there was 
vote rigging by ECK Returning Officers on both sides.  The net 
result: Kibaki still wins with 4,391,464 to Odinga's 4,203,301. 
Margin of victory: 188,163. 
 
-------------------------------------- 
Other Allegations: Raila Wins Narrowly 
-------------------------------------- 
 
9.  (SBU) In another scenario, Post subtracted from the official ECK 
results discrepancies reported from the constituency level by a 
number of observers, monitors, and other sources, including two ECK 
contacts who provided documentary evidence to us of vote padding in 
favor of Kibaki in six constituencies by Nairobi-based ECK officials. 
 Other sources include the European Union election monitoring group, 
which documented anomalies in six constituencies, domestic observers, 
ODM party agents and partisan blogs.  The latter two sources would 
have to be considered less reliable, but we threw them into the mix 
to see what would happen.  All together, the dataset included alleged 
discrepancies in 28 constituencies.  Numbers from the Standard 
database were not included in this dataset.  With these important 
caveats in mind, we ran the numbers, and found that Raila comes out 
on top with 4,375,539 votes to Kibaki's 4,349,001.  Margin of 
victory: A slender 26,538. 
 
-------------------------------- 
Merging Allegations: A Mixed Bag 
-------------------------------- 
 
10.  (SBU) Finally, we ran the numbers one more time, combining the 
numbers from the Standard's database with the discrepancies reported 
by other observers.  The Standard's discrepancies sometimes matched 
reports from other sources, particularly with regard to disputed 
votes for President Kibaki (nine matches for Kibaki versus three for 
Raila).   In other cases, however, ECK, the Standard, and other 
observers all reported different results for the same constituency 
(this occurred a total of ten times). 
 
11. (SBU) The results of this final analysis were mixed.  When giving 
Kibaki the benefit of the doubt over differing discrepancies, he beat 
Raila by 26,364 votes.  When Raila gained the benefit of the doubt, 
however, he came out ahead by 57,425 votes. 
 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
Connecting Two Very Fuzzy Dots: Advantage Raila 
--------------------------------------------- -- 
 
12. (SBU) Finally, if we combine the four estimates of stolen votes 
at the central level (paras 7-11) with our estimate of stuffed 
ballots at the local level (paras 4-5) and then subtract these grand 
totals from the official ECK results, the scenarios change slightly. 
Either Raila or Kibaki wins, depending on how the votes are 
apportioned.  Using a conservative assumption that apportions 
according to the percentage of votes won in each constituency by each 
candidate, the margins of victory are between 30,331 and 114,130 
votes.  All of these scenarios assume extensive cheating on both 
sides.  In all cases, the margin of victory for either side is slim 
and ultimately unknowable. 
 
----------------------- 
Comment and Conclusions 
----------------------- 
 
13.  (SBU) This analysis is not the last word.  Additional data could 
emerge that would alter the bottom lines, which are heavily caveated 
to begin with.  Thus, our conclusions are by definition very 
tentative.  It is now clear that the ECK became a victim of partisan 
political interests during the election, and the ECK's failure as an 
institution constitutes a dark spot on Kenya's democratic evolution. 
(Note: After the results were announced and ECK officials were sent 
home, a "break-in" at the heavily guarded KICC building occurred.  We 
do not know what was taken or altered, but since there was heavy 
police security around the ECK, we can only conclude that it was an 
inside job.  End Note.) 
 
14. (SBU) What the analysis does tell us is that it's not at all 
clear who actually would have won the presidency had the election 
been truly transparent, free, and fair.  The only thing we know for 
sure on the basis of our incomplete and possibly flawed data is that 
we don't know for sure, and that whoever won likely did so by a very 
slim margin.  This flies in the face of the position adopted by the 
ODM and others as mantra: That the election was brazenly stolen by 
Kibaki's ECK insiders at the last moment and that Raila should have 
won by a wide margin.  It also contradicts any perception or 
conviction within the Kibaki camp that the latter clearly won the 
race.  The fact of the matter is, as ECK Chairman Kivuitu said 
publicly on January 1, "I do not know if Kibaki won the election." 
 
15. (SBU) One implication of our analysis is that a recount or an 
independent audit of the December 27 results as a practical matter 
would probably not be able to definitively determine the true winner, 
particularly since it appears the election's paper trail has since 
been compromised.  And even if an honest audit could be conducted, 
the results might be so close as to fuel further controversy and 
unrest.  Another implication is that holding a run-off election might 
likewise result in a very close race.  After what happened during 
this election, Kenya's electoral institutions cannot credibly conduct 
a free, fair, and transparent election until fundamental reform has 
been carried out. 
 
16. (SBU) Note: We have forwarded our datasets (see ref A) to AF/E 
and INR for further analysis.  Please contact Rachael Doherty at 
DohertyRT@state.gov if you would also like to receive a copy. End 
Note. 
Ranneberger