Opposition leader Raila Odinga cast doubt on the security of the Kenyan election system as the country anxiously awaited the results from Tuesday's presidential vote. Odinga's allegations of "massive fraud" surfaced Wednesday night after current President Uhuru Kenyatta saw a surge in the polls.
“The 2017 general election was a fraud," Odinga said during a news conference. “The electoral fraud and fabrication of results was massive and extensive."
Demonstrators were seen burning tires, setting up roadblocks and clashing with police in parts of the capital, Nairobi. Waves of violence eventually permeated Kisumu, one of Kenya's biggest cities and opposition strongholds.
Circulating reports suggest several people have died due to election-related violence. According to France24, two of four reported deaths occurred in a slum of Nairobi where police chief Japheth Koome claimed that the two victims had tried to "attack our officers with pangas (machetes) and that's when the officers opened fire on them." A similar incident occurred in the Tana River region, where police said that five men wielding knifes had attacked a tallying station. A Kenya News Agency journalist confirmed that the attackers destroyed the ballot boxes and election commission laptops.
Despite the violence, many voiced their condemnation of the social unrest--urging Odinga to concede defeat.
Odinga is pained and always has issues with elections. The world is watching Kenya. Say no to violence.. Odinga must concede defeat— kwame anokye (@fuji_nero) August 10, 2017
News of sweeping election violence prompted former Secretary of State John Kerry to reaffirm confidence in Kenya's ability to secure its voting system. Kerry, who presiding over a group of individuals overlooking the election, referred to the system as "very, very strong." He also called on Kenya's leaders to step up in the coming days and provide a sense of relief to those who fear more post-election violence.
The election violence acted as a reminder of what had happened in Kenya in recent years. In 2010, election results were widely believed to have been flawed, leading to bloodshed that killed at least 1,300 people. And, in 2013, when voting systems were affected by malfunctions and rigging allegations were commonplace, about 300 people were killed, the New York Times noted.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.