Cablegate: Kenya: Did Kibaki Really Steal the Election?


DE RUEHNR #0199/01 0171703
R 171703Z JAN 08





E.O. 12958:N/A

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

...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

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 if you would also like to receive a copy. End

© Scoop Media

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