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Observers express concern about the disinformation about the vote in Kenya

#Observers #express #concern #disinformation #vote #Kenya

International observers on Thursday expressed concern about the spread of disinformation during the long wait for the results of Kenya’s elections, as preliminary counts point to a close race for the presidency.

Preliminary results circulated by local media suggest Vice President William Ruto and Raila Odinga, the veteran opposition leader now backed by the ruling party, are neck and neck, increasing the likelihood of a challenge from the losing candidate.

No outcome in Kenya’s presidential elections has gone unchallenged since 2002, and disputes have in the past led to bloodshed, either with ethnic clashes or police violence.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) is under pressure to hold a free and fair election after the 2017 presidential election was canceled due to irregularities in the counting process and mismanagement by the electoral body.

But as the complex process of checking and counting votes is expected to take days, social media has been inundated with disinformation about the results, with rights activists and civil society groups accusing both candidate camps of sharing misleading posts.

Commonwealth observers on Thursday warned that the delay in releasing the results allowed disinformation to spread quickly across the internet.

“The time lag between the release of the official results by the IEBC and the preliminary and sometimes conflicting results that have been released by the media is a cause for concern,” Bruce Golding, chairman of the Commonwealth Observer Group, said at a news conference in Nairobi.

– ‘Need trust in the system’ –

At a separate briefing, observers from the United States also expressed concern about the spread of misinformation as the counting process entered its third day.

“It is important that there is timely and accurate information and that all citizens have access to that information,” said Donna Brazile of the National Democratic Institute.

“It’s about citizens having confidence in the system and that it works properly. It’s not about campaigns continuing – campaigns have ended and the results need to be tabulated accurately to ensure trust in the system.”

The comments reflected concerns shared by Amnesty International and several Kenyan civil society groups on Wednesday at “an increasing level of false or misleading information” being shared on social media.

They said in a statement that several posts of candidates and their supporters in the rival camps “deliberately attempted to misinform the electorate and the public” about the election process and results.

“This includes distortions, false information passed without malicious intent (misinformation) and that passed to deliberately mislead people (disinformation).”

Kenyans voted in six elections on Tuesday, electing a new president along with senators, governors, lawmakers, women’s representatives and about 1,500 county officials in largely peaceful polls.

The IEBC has yet to release a final turnout, but turnout was just over 65 percent on Wednesday.

This compares to a final turnout of 78 percent in the disputed elections in August 2017.

East African Community (EAC) observers said the lower turnout, particularly among Kenyans under the age of 35, was worrying.

“It should worry everyone that young people are not participating in the process,” said Jakaya Kikwete, head of the bloc’s monitoring mission.

As economic pressures have mounted in the country of 50 million people and food and fuel costs have soared, many Kenyans said they were fed up with electing leaders who had done little to ease their woes.

“I’ve voted twice in my life and after the last election I decided I won’t even vote because it’s a waste of time,” Ruth Musyoki, 40, told AFP in Nairobi.

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#Observers #express #concern #disinformation #vote #Kenya

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