Friday, March 29, 2013

Kenya's journalists start to break their election silence

Kenya has long prided itself on free media, but when the country went to the polls reporters and broadcasters went into a sort of self-imposed purdah.

It has been a week of soul searching for the media in Kenya. The Supreme Court has just one more week to deliberate on claims by Raila Odinga that it was a "flawed electoral process" that delivered Uhuru Kenyatta the presidency in a first-round win. It is a decision which not only suspends the swearing in of Kenya's president-elect, but has left anxiety lingering in the air like a dust cloud.

It is only now that Kenyan journalists are emerging from behind a curtain of silence and asking the "awkward questions" that Linus Kaikai, managing editor of Nation TV, admits "we should have been asking before". For example, were earlier warnings that the electronic voting system could fail simply ignored?

Kenya has long prided itself on energetic and free media, but when the country went to the polls a little more than a fortnight ago, newspaper reporters and broadcasters went into a sort of self-imposed purdah. Live feeds of press conferences from competing candidates were "discouraged" and when the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission held its news briefings and invited questions from the press, many Kenyans were astonished when none came.

The reason, according to one newspaper columnist, was a culture of "peace evangelism", or, put simply, peace by omission in a country still scarred by its recent past.

Unprecedented violence following disputed polls five years ago left more than a thousand people dead and a quarter of a million homeless. This time around the election was, with a few exceptions, a peaceful affair. This was thanks in large part to the faith placed in a new Constitution and restraint by Kenya's leaders. A culture of "hate speech" was partly blamed for the violence in 2007. One journalist, Joshua Sang, is due to appear at the International Criminal Court in The Hague in the coming months, accused of inciting ethnic hatred through his radio broadcasts. This time around, it seems editors were taking no chances.

Instead of playing a watchdog role the media were used as "a guard dog protecting the interests of the status quo, in the name of peace", commented one Kenyan journalist during a heated online discussion.

Potential trigger
"Everything was seen as a potential trigger," admits Linus Kaikai, who spent eight years at the SABC before returning to his native Kenya to head one of the leading television stations. "We exercised a lot of care before putting material on air."

The dilemma becomes clear after a quick glance at social media. Ethnic rivalries continue to be played out online in venal anonymous fashion. New laws on hate speech aim to clamp down on any whiff of ethnic political rhetoric. Yet some believe it is a convenient excuse for editors to bury their heads in the sand and disregard painful issues of elitism and corruption, which many say need to be confronted for Kenya to move on.

The foreign media were branded "alarmist" by some government officials. In a country that has traditionally welcomed the media from abroad, the response to them was decidedly hostile. Deportation was threatened and Bitange Ndemo, the permanent secretary in the information ministry, went a step further and insisted that foreign journalists be "vetted". Many of my Kenyan colleagues blushed at this political bluster, yet, in the past few days there have been signs of capitulation.

Joseph Owiti a senior ministry colleague assured the Mail & Guardian that "there would be no vetting of [foreign] journalists"; just checks to ensure they "have the proper paperwork".

The power behind the press has also been blamed for self-censorship. Kenya has witnessed a massive expansion of the media. Many newspapers and TV and radio stations are owned by politicians. The two main presidential contenders both have links to high profile media brands and that has inevitably influenced coverage, argues Shitami Khamadi of Internews Kenya – a nongovern­mental organisation that monitors the media.

Kenya's Constitution entrenches media freedom, but journalists worry about their jobs and at times have been seen as collaborators with politicians in an industry which has not been immune to corruption.

Now is the time for the media to redeem itself, argues Gado – the pen name of one of Kenya's most respected cartoonists – who has endured running battles with editors these past few weeks.

There has been "no good forensic analysis of what happened during the election", he sighs. "We were hoodwinked" by the peace message and, as Kenyans, "we should know better than that".

Thursday, March 21, 2013

details unravel on how the 2013 Presidential Elections were manipulated

-----Original message------
From: Ammbbaassaah Odhiambo <>
To: <>,"National Youth Sector Alliance" <>,"nysa1" <>
Date: Tuesday, March 19, 2013 6:36:52 PM GMT+0300
Subject: [NYSA:9913] details unravel on how the 2013 Presidential Elections were manipulated

Panic has gripped the Jubilee Coalition headed by Uhuru Kenyatta as details
unravel on how the 2013 Presidential Elections were manipulated to hand him
a win by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission – IEBC, that
is now the subject of a Supreme Court petition.

The emerging details point to a shocking scheme hatched by circle of
advisors and government functionaries within the intelligence and civil
service, way before the elections.

Analysts scrutinizing documents ahead of the Supreme Court petition by the
Coalition for Reforms and Democracy challenging the results, were stuck by
how technology was also used to aid Uhuru "defeat" Raila Odinga of CORD.

"Kenyans can remember well that some curious things happened with regard to
the so called provisional results that IEBC kept churning out", says one of
the lawyers handling the CORD petition.

"It was a statistical impossibility. Between March 4th – March 7th, Raila
Odinga was consistently stuck at 43/44% while Uhuru stayed at 53%. Musalia
was stuck at 2.8% while the margin between Uhuru and Raila remained at
600,000-700,000 votes. This was impossible considering that results were
coming in randomly from all over Kenya. Yet these figures remained

After a confusing Friday 8th March when IEBC postponed announcement of
final constituency results till Saturday, a quick operation was put in
place to force acceptance of the results, amidst anxiety by Kenyans that
the voting process had been manipulated.

IEBC's James Oswago reportedly called media houses late in the night for a
surprise final announcement of constituency results Friday 12.30am without
indicating who had won. Throughout the week IEBC had warned media from
declaring anyone the winner. However 30 minutes later KTN and NTV got a
"nod" to call the elections. From there on events moved quickly. At 1.30am
KTN flew a banner indicating Uhuru Kenyatta was the winner. Several
stations in surprise followed suit. Kenyans would wake up on Saturday
morning to all TVs proclaiming "President Uhuru", almost 12 hrs before
Isaack Hassan finally announced Uhuru's win on Saturday afternoon.

The Weekly Citizen in this exclusive report can now report stunning details
of a rigging plot that would have passed undetected if all players had
stuck to the script and the "tyranny of numbers" theory had not fallen flat
on its face on March 4th.

According to CORD insiders and several statistics analysts who have
examined the IEBC voter register when it closed on Dec 18th, over 1,500,000
extra votes were "unexplained votes" votes that were for the presidential
result alone. Since according to the IEBC, every voter was given 6 ballot
papers, IEBC will be hard pressed on how this happened.

If these allegations are proven then, Uhuru's tally will render his
6,173,433 vote announced by the IEBC to 4,673, 433. Which could mean that
Raila Odinga could have won the election if what CORD claims is true.

The well calculated scheme was based on 3 critical things that had to be
done to force in Uhuru. The most important was to force a first round win
for Jubilee.

"It was obviously clear to us that any run-off would result in an
anti-Kikuyu vote in which only Kalenjins and Kikuyu's would vote for Uhuru
while Raila takes off with the rest of the country', says Central Kenya
Senator Elect over drinks at a popular Nairobi spot on the day the IEBC
announced Uhuru as President. "Winning Round One was never an option. It
had to happen"

Getting the numbers was an issue that had worried TNA strategists one year
before striking an alliance with William Ruto's URP as the Jubilee
Coalition. Even if Ruto's Kalenjin backyard was convinced to vote for
Uhuru, the numbers Kalenjins brought in were still not enough. Though the
"Tyranny of Numbers" propaganda was sold as a winning formula, insiders
knew the truth held a different reality. The 50% was simply not there. The
best Jubilee could manage was force a run-off their researchers said they
would lose.

The tyranny of the numbers was the psychological component of the whole
game; and the so was "PEACE" campaign enterprise, says a member of the
civil society

"It is Funny that the tyranny of numbers theory perpetuated by Political
Analyst Mutahi Ngunyi done in February 2013 mentions the same figures Uhuru
got in the final tally" says popular blogger Robert Alai.

Several contingency plans were made to ensure the plan succeeds. One was to
ensure that the Kikuyu and Kalenjin voter turn-out was to hit 95% while
hoping that CORD base's turn-out would remain at the traditional 65% to 70%.

Like many assumptions made by the Jubilee strategy team, their plan on
turn-out was based on assumptions that CORD's base would barely attain
their traditional turnout.

The second critical factor was use of technology to help add up numbers as
the infamous tyranny of numbers depended on factors outside Jubilee's

This plan to be used was borrowed from Ghana's December 2012 Presidential
Elections. The election which is now being contested at the Ghanian Supreme
Court was won by President John Mahama who was announced to have secured
50.7% of votes, enough to avoid a run-off against NPP candidate Nana
Akufo-Addo with 47.7%. Akuf-Addo has filed a petition with evidence that
the vote was won by manipulating the electronic system.

In the Ghanian petition, proof has been revealed the company hired by the
Ghanaian Election Commission to supply data services – SuperLock
Technologies Ltd – also had a contract with the National Democratic
Congress to supply the same services to the party that included tallying.
In the petition NPP says it had found irregularities such as cases of over
voting and instances when people not registered by the new biometric
finger-printing system were able to vote.

According to the NPP and the other parties, these numbers announced by the
Ghana's Electoral Commission did not correspond with actual votes recorded
in the 275 constituencies. They allege tampering of numbers by the
suppliers of IT services in favour of John Mahama. The commission also
reported that turnout was at an all time high of 81%.

In a dramatic incident during the elections, NPP stormed the electronic
suppliers premises and claimed to have caught the company's data personnel
altering results before transmission to the National Tallying Centre

Similar to the Ghanaian case, the company that supplied Kenya's IEBC with
the electronic data and call centre services is Ken Call. The company whose
connection to IEBC were never made public was charged with supplying call
centre services and hosting the data base from where the polling station
results were remitted to the IEBC. Ken Call also has a contract with Uhuru
Kenyatta's The National Alliance party to supply tallying services of
results from polling stations!

"Results from Returning officers at polling stations being transmitted
electronically were first relayed to Ken Call's servers for onward
transmission to Bomas", an IEBC official told Weekly Citizen.

"Imagine the same server was being used to tally results for TNA! This is
where the electronic tampering of results took place as it was easy to
access the same server which was serving both the IEBC and TNA and managed
by the same company. When questions started being raised about the
contradiction between figures announced at polling stations and the ones on
IEBC screens at Bomas, the system mysteriously crashed!"

The official says it is unclear when the company was hired by the IEBC and
why the commission ignored the conflict of interest.

The Weekly Citizen has discovered that like the Ghanaian case the plan by
to rig the Kenyan Presidential vote was 3 pronged;

First, encourage the purchase of BVR kits by the IEBC. The technology was
simply meant to hoodwink the public and crash when plan B was to be
effected. Using unorthodox means that included bribing IEBC officials, the
more experienced 4G solutions which serves India that has over 500 million
voters was disqualified and Code Inc given the job to supply the kits. Code
Inc went into liquidation and was renamed Electoral Systems International
after the Fijian government exposed the company to be a branch of the
Canadian Intelligence Organisation. Part of the system's technology was
supplied by a company linked to a Mr Chirchir, a former Commissioner at the
Secondly, as Ghana's NPP claims in their petition, the ruling party used
Super Lock Technologies Ltd to hack into the system and pre-determine a
mathematical formula that adjusts figures as they come for both candidates
while keeping any other candidates at a predetermined formula to ensure
they do not harm the intended outcome. (This possibly explains why Uhuru's
margins with Raila never changed even with random results coming from all
over the country). Yet even with this plan, Jubilee knew they would have to
top up "few" numbers based as the 50% + 1 was still proving elusive with a
week to the election.
The third and final strategy was the real plan. Play with Kenyans' minds by
manipulating results and establishing a lead for Jubilee then crash the
system and go manual. This was arranged by declining to have a back-up
server which would retain evidence of the manipulation. With only one
server, a deliberate crash would be final and would destroy evidence.

According to Maina Kiai, former chairman of the a human rights organization
the technology was a red herring.

"This election was meant to be manual from start to finish loopholes
included" he writes in his Saturday Nation column. "A manual result is what
would allow different results to be announced at the Constituency, County
and Bomas. All these electronic gadgets and equipment were meant to pull
wool over our eyes"

"Even with this plan, the team knew they would have to top up numbers based
as the 50% + 1 still proved elusive with a week to the election" says a TNA
Mp Elect.

Then March 4th came.

While the scheme was to "minimally" add votes to the "tyrannical numbers"
to enable a Round One win, everything went wrong on March 4th Election day
as the electorate in key battle ground areas stunned Jubilee strategists
with an anti Uhuru vote.

Luhyas expected to vote for Musalia up to 50% rebelled and went for Raila.
The 30% of the Kamba vote expected from Kitui through Charity Ngilu failed
to come in. Coast where Jubilee were expecting a 50-50 share with CORD
bolted to Raila. CORD and Raila took off with 70% of the Kisii vote. In
Kalenjin land, voter turnout fell below 70%. The "tyranny of numbers" was
becoming a flop. With predictions by Jubilee statisticians collapsing all
over on Election Day, the team after consultations had to quickly switch to
Plan B.

"This plan was aided by the decision by the IEBC to keep open some polling
stations well after 5pm, the official closing time" says an ODM Chief Agent
who manned a County in Rift Valley. Plan B called for manual voting to
improve the numbers. "In Rift Valley CORD agents were reportedly
intimidated and some left the polling stations as die hard URP activists
some of whom manned the polling centres now took over. "It was hard to
control what they were doing after that. Some people were now being given
2-3 presidential ballots to get their target number. You had no idea who
was voting and who wasn't."

As former Attorney General Amos Wako disclosed at a press conference last
week "It appears the IEBC had several registers as they did not even
gazette any. We will be asking the Supreme Court to examine which register
was being used and which one was valid".

It is obvious CORD's petition will put IEBC to task show an increase in
voter registration after the registration ended on 18th Dec. In some cases
the register grew by 35% in one constituency after reconciliation. On
December 18th 2012, @IEBCpage declared there were 14,337,399 Registered
Voters. The Final Register indicates there were 13,352,533 Voters

Other than manipulate the register using technology, technology was also
becoming an obstacle to get the right numbers and ensure a Round 1 win. The
Voter Identification Kit which required fingerprint identification for
voters could not be manipulated as "ghost" voters could not get in to vote
or double voters. They had to be physically present.

By 2pm, a crisis meeting was convened by Jubilee strategists on how to
shore up numbers in Rift Valley.

Mysteriously the Finger Print Identification kit stopped working. Manual
voting was introduced.

The IEBC electronic tallying system which was relaying fast results with a
53% lead for Uhuru four hours after 5pm, suddenly slowed down with just a
million votes in. Then the "IEBC" server which in reality belonged to Ken
Call crashed. And the results slowed down to a trickle. By 11pm IEBC
announced to the press that announcement of provisional results had been
halted and pushed to Tuesday.

Most IT experts confirm that the amount of data being remitted for the
33,000 polling stations in terms of text messages could not have crashed
the system.

"It is very little data. Safaricom, Airtel and Orange deal with almost 300
million text messages daily. The data from polling stations was not that
much", says an employee of Safaricom on condition of anonymity. "What is
puzzling is why on such an important exercise IEBC and Ken Call did not
install the standard back-up server which would saved remitted results and
revived the process".

The CORD team believes Isaack Hassan's explanations were a cover-up and
that the technology "use" and "failure" were part of the strategy to rig
the elections.

"The electronic system kept Uhuru and Raila at particular percentages to
psychologically make Kenyans believe Uhuru was winning and Raila was
losing. However since the figures at Bomas were not matching forms 34, 35,
36, and the Jubilee "tyranny of numbers" formula had failed, the electronic
tallying system had to go.

Maina Kiai is more brutal in his assessment calling IEBC's excuses
"hogwash". "First it was that the server crashed. Then, than one side of
the disk was full and unable to accept results. Then that presiding
officers were slow in transmitting. The maximum capacity required for data
from 33,000 polling stations is just 2GB, less than what a mobile phone can

With the plan in progress for manual voting, by Wednesday Rift Valley
Turn-Out was being reported at 90% while Central had risen to 95%. Based on
the Kriegler report this numbers were obviously inflated. However more was
required as Uhuru had dropped below 50%. So delays had to be created for
Returning Officers to re-adjust figures.

The diversionary tactic kept Kenyans patient as Issack Hassan kept talking
of delays caused by "verification", "technological challenges" and
introduced a phrase "complex elections" that would be repeatedly used
throughout the Bomas process.

With the announcement that manual voting would be used, the vote tallying
took a different outlook as the initial 48 hrs in which all provisional
results were to be announced dragged into days and tallying began afresh.
Questions about discrepancies by CORD officials resulted in IEBC throwing
them out. A compliant media was threatened into silence and no criticism of
the IEBC was to be aired.

The Bomas tallying centre was placed under heavy security as the once
accessible Chairman of the IEBC now avoided all media questions regarding
the process.

"This is the most opaque electoral commission and ranks lower than even the
late Kivuitu Commission" said one of CORD's lawyers James Orengo.

In the deliberate confusion that followed strange results started flowing
off the IBC press briefings. Among the cases are;

Wajir North had a 92% Voter Turn-Out for spot whose history indicates
50-60%. In Wajir West, if the Final Register hadn't been adjusted, 99.45%
of the Registered Voters would have voted. In Nyaki East in North Imenti
with 12000 registered voters 15300 are reported to have voted!

In Kajiado South, the people who voted (42,276) is higher than the people
registered in Dec (41,040).Register adjusted to 46,218 to conform. In
Sigor, the people who voted (19,704) is higher than the people registered
in Dec (19,337).Register adjusted to 21,341 to conform.

"How does Turkana Central with 25,970 votes as at 18th Dec end up with
34,486 voters after reconciliation?! Where did 8,516 voters come from?"
asks Dr Makodingo, a political analyst on his twitter page.

Worse still, IEBC's figures refuse to add up in spite of efforts to
"correct errors". Valid Votes (12,222,980) plus Rejected Votes (108,975)
add up to 12,331,955 and not their tally of 12,338,667!

"It is strange that 1,500,000 persons only cast a vote for a president and
across Kenya this number is reflected in joint votes cast for Senators,
Governors, Mps, Women Reps or County Reps. It is an obvious case of manual
ballot box stuffing and double voting for Uhuru" says Statistics analyst Dr

Presently CORD may only have to prove that the 8,000 votes votes Uhuru
received to add to his declared 50% is fraudulent. If that is done the
Supreme Court can order a fresh poll within 60 days.

European Union Observers Agree Elections Results In Kenya Were Rigged

Election Not Transparent, Say European Union Observers

Nairobi, March 20, 2013

"The processing of official results was wholly lacking in transparency," according to an internal report of the European Union election observers. The report was written the week after the March 4 presidential election and was severely critical of the election administration.

Western and American governments have so far not commented on the election result and have confined themselves to congratulating the Kenyan people for their peaceful attitude to the elections.

"The European Union Election Observation Mission is closely following the petitions filed after the 4 March General Elections. Impartial and expeditious handling of petitions, in a peaceful atmosphere, is an important part of every democratic electoral process. To observe this important phase, EU election observers will stay in Kenya until the Supreme Court delivers its rulings," said an EU press release yesterday.

The press release said that Chief Observer Alojz Peterle will publicly present the observer mission's final assessment on the overall credibility of the elections after the tallying and the petitions are over.

However the internal report indicates that grave reservations have now superseded the EU's initially positive public comments. The EU observers highlighted the failure of electronic voter identification "resulting in an inconsistent method of verifying voters' identity."

They referred to the breakdown of the electronic transmission system and the multiplying by a factor of eight of rejected ballots. "Naturally this did nothing to enhance confidence in an already discredited results transmission system," wrote the observers.

"Although there have been allegations of hacking and other sabotage, it is equally realistic that these systems could not be implemented because of the limited timeframe in which hardware was received, configured and deployed, alongside incomplete training for polling staff," says the report. The observers said "as was the case in 2007, there were numerous problems with the tallying of election results."

"Neither election observers nor party agents had adequate access to the processes in the constituency, county and national tallying centres. Small but numerous mathematical inconsistencies could have had significant impact, given the small number of votes by which Kenyatta passed the 50 percent threshold. So far presidential results have only been disaggregated down to the constituency level," said the observers.

"Processing of official election results, based on tallying the results on polling station forms,.... lacked transparency at every stage," said the observers.

They said party agents and observers were not allowed to see how tallying was carried out, including in the National Tallying Centre at Bomas of Kenya.

"Party agents were able to attend the tallying of 16 constituency results forms before being expelled from the NTC for disrupting the process."

"EU EOM observers reported that tallied results at lower levels were often not signed by party agents, and in some instances observers noted mathematical inconsistencies," said the report.

The observers pointed out that the Interim Election and Boundaries Commission progressively announced the numbers of valid votes, rejected votes, and all votes cast.

"Throughout the four days in which these figures were announced, these figures did not add up," the report said. "The processing of official results was mired in obscurity, controversy and relatively small but numerous mathematical inconsistencies."

The observers criticised the media for not broadcasting live press conferences saying this "restricted the access of the public to real and timely information about political developments."

The observers commended the IEBC for having gender balance among its staff but observed that much less than the stipulated one-third of women were elected to office.

"The performance of the police has been evaluated in general as good," said the EU observers and said "there were no major incidences of human rights violations during the election period."

The observers noted that various complaints had been made to the IEBC including returning officers leaving the tallying centre with materials including computers (Nairobi, Nakuru); manipulation of results (Kakamega, Nyeri, Nakuru); ballot stuffing by a presiding officer (Kakamega); issuing more than one ballot paper per voter (Eldoret); bribing of voters (Nakuru, Kisumu); not sealing the ballot boxes (Embu); and damaging a TNA billboard (Nyeri).

We are calling on all the Youth to support the Youth under 35 seeking elections as Members of County Assemblies Country wide. Thanks for Supporting the National Youth Sector Alliance
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Join the Green Teams Initiative ...and be a part of the Simple Solutions that resolve the Global Complex Ecological Challenges

Emmanuel Dennis Ngongo
YES Kenya Leader
Initiator of the Green Teams Initiative
P.O. Box 8799, 00200
Nairobi Kenya
Cell: +254722619005

Thursday, March 14, 2013

To Be Prudent is to be Partial - Michela Wrong

March 14, 2013, 5:55 amComment

To Be Prudent Is to Be Partial

Till Muellenmeister/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

NAIROBI — Over the years I've come to view the Kenyan media with a mixture of respect and affection.

The Campaign for Kenya

A series about the country's first general election under its new Constitution.

In the 1990s, I watched in awe as Kenyan photographers dodged Daniel arap Moi's club-wielding riot police. When their colleagues in the newsroom exposed financial scandals, ranging from Goldenberg to Anglo Leasing, I pasted their articles into my files. Like the press pack anywhere, Kenyan journalists liked their beer and could wolf down a buffet in a heartbeat, and the odd brown envelope definitely changed hands. But they were brave. "The best press in Africa," I told anyone who cared to listen.

So Kenya's recent election has been a baffling, frustrating time.

In the last few weeks, Western journalists — myself included — have become pariahs, lambasted by Kenya's twitterati and Facebook users for our coverage and threatened by the government with deportation.

The fury seems exaggerated, given the relative rarity of offending articles. Western reports have attracted undue interest, I'm convinced, because domestic coverage, while increasingly slick, has been so lifeless. It sometimes feels as though a zombie army has taken up position where Kenya's feisty media used to be, with local reporters going glaze-eyed through the motions.

This malaise was most obvious last week during briefings by the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission at the tallying center in Bomas, just outside Nairobi, when what had been billed as a high-tech, tamper-proof election began to unravel spectacularly. The Kenyan media of old would have gone for the jugular. But when the commission chairman, Issack Hassan, after describing yet another puzzling technical glitch or mysterious delay, asked, "Any questions?" the response was stunned silence.

It was the same when independent election monitors announced their findings. Given just how many anomalies were surfacing, the upbeat assessments of observers from the African Union, the European Union and the Commonwealth seemed inexcusably complacent. Yet once again, Kenyan journalists left most of the questions to their Western counterparts.

Lethargy should not be mistaken for laziness. Yes, rumors are swirling about payoffs and conflicts of interest. But this professional surrender, ironically, appears to stem from the very best of intentions.

During the violence that followed the 2007 election, when militias burned families out of their houses and executed members of rival ethnic communities, Kenya's media played a not-entirely-innocent role. Hate speech spread by vernacular radio stations and via SMS egged on the men with machetes, just as they once had in Rwanda. One of the three indictees facing trial before the International Criminal Court in The Hague is Joshua arap Sang, who ran the Kalenjin-language radio station Kass FM.

Chastened by that experience, media executives reached a gentlemen's agreement to avoid anything that might whip up ethnic tensions ahead of this year's election. There would be no live coverage of announcements or press conferences by political parties.

"Last time," the media "were part of the problem," a Kenyan broadcaster told me. "They were corrupted; they were irresponsible. So this time there was a feeling that we had to keep everyone calm, at the expense, if necessary, of our liberties."

But self-censorship comes at a price: political impartiality. The decision not to inflame ethnic passions meant that media coverage shifted in favor of whoever took an early lead, in this case Uhuru Kenyatta.

Hours after the CORD alliance of the opposition leader Raila Odinga announced that it wanted the tallying of ballots stopped and an audit conducted, Kenyan radio D.J.'s were still cheerfully assuring listeners that everything was on track. That may have prevented passions in Odinga's Luo community from exploding, but it was a massive distortion of the truth.

Patrick Gathara

The local media swiftly fell into the habit of brushing off CORD's declarations. Television broadcasts of Odinga's announcement that he would challenge the outcome of the election before the Supreme Court switched to Uhuru's acceptance speech before the Q. and A. with Odinga had even begun. By this Wednesday, Kenya's largest newspaper devoted more space to the selection of a new pope than to the lawsuits being prepared by CORD and civil society groups.

The Kenyan media's self-restraint reveals a society terrified by its own capacity for violence. "What maturity is this that trembles at the first sign of disagreement or challenge?" asked the Kenyan cartoonist Patrick Gathara in a superb blog post, citing a national "peace lobotomy." He went on: "What peace lives in the perpetual shadow of a self-annihilating violence?"

Shortly before handing Uhuru his winner's certificate, the chairman of the election commission congratulated the Kenyan media on their "exemplary behavior." As he did, the screen above his head was showing figures that did not add up.

Any journalist worth their salt should start feeling itchy when praised by those in authority. The recent accolades will chafe as more polling irregularities become public. The media should be asking themselves whether, in their determination to act responsibly, they allowed another major abuse to occur right before their eyes.

Michela Wrong has covered Africa for nearly two decades, reporting for Reuters, the BBC and The Financial Times. She is the author of "It's Our Turn to Eat: The Story of a Kenyan Whistleblower."

Friday, March 1, 2013

NYSA and Aljazeera Kenya Election Voices Project

Dear Friends,
As indicated a couple of days ago, NYSA and Aljazeera are partnership to amplify the stories around the election to the rest of the world.

NYSA is working with volunteers from across the country to make this happen and through AlJazeera make Kenyan Voices heard across the country in this elections.

Members of the public can also participate in this project by submitting their reports to Aljazeera through the TOLL FREE number provided below.

Where will the audio reports go?
The best audio reports will appear on our Kenya elections 2013 page: 

We will also try and get them on TV we will keep you informed about this.

Submitting audio reports:The number for people to call and make reports is 0800720690. Please tell all your family and friends and anyone who has a story to tell about their hopes, fears and experiences in this election to call and leave a report on Al Jazeera. 

The service is only available for Safaricom users and is toll free.

Kindly share this information with as many networks in your communities.

Kind regards,

Emmanuel Dennis

Sent from my iPad