NAIROBI, Kenya, Mar 6 – The UK on Wednesday denied meddling in Kenya’s electoral process and reiterated that it has not endorsed any candidate participating in the polls
A statement from the Foreign Office said claims of British interference are misleading.
The FCO explained that the election was a choice for Kenyans alone and that the UK government respected the sovereign will, and the authority of the IEBC and Kenyan institutions to deliver it.
“Claims of British interference including by the High Commission in the electoral process are entirely false and misleading,” a Foreign Office spokesman said.
The accusations were made by the Jubilee Alliance which demanded answers from Christian Turner, the British High Commissioner in Nairobi, over claims of an “abnormally high influx of British military personnel in the country which began around voting day”.
Kenyatta, standard-bearer of the Jubilee Alliance, still leads his main rival Raila Odinga, as counting of votes cast after Monday’s knife-edge election continued into a third day on Wednesday.
The number of rejected ballots is becoming crucial to the result, and technical arguments whether they should include spoilt ballots in the final tally is consuming the increasingly chaotic count process.
“The Jubilee Alliance is deeply concerned about the shadowy, suspicious and rather animated involvement of the British High Commissioner in Kenya’s election,” said Narc leader Charity Ngilu.
“The British High Commissioner (has) been canvassing to have rejected votes tallied in an attempt to deny the Jubilee coalition outright victory.”
Turner has rejected the allegations on his official Twitter account where he stated, “Not true that UK has position/view on rejected votes; that is decision for Kenyans and if necessary Supreme Court,” he wrote.
“The UK does not have a position on the question of how to handle the rejected votes. That is for the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, and if necessary Kenyan courts, to determine.”
“We urge all sides to ensure calm, avoid inflammatory statements, and to take any disputes to the courts,” the Foreign Office statement said.
Kenyatta’s team demanded that UK High Commissioner to explain the sudden upsurge of British military presence in the country.
In its response, the Foreign Office said British soldiers were currently in Kenya as part of the regular training programme, agreed with the Kenyan defence ministry,
“This routine exercise is completely unrelated to the Kenyan elections, and was planned nine months ago.”
The Ministry of Defence and the British High Commission in Nairobi last week also said the soldiers were there as part of a training programme.
More than 10,000 British troops pass through northern Kenya to complete their training before deployment. Two battlegroups are currently crossing-over in the country as one completes its exercises and the second arrives to begin them.
An expensive new electronic system to send vote counts via mobile phones from polling stations to the national tallying centre failed on Tuesday night, and the count was continuing manually.
This has raised fears among some Kenyans that opportunities to tamper with the count would rise. The electoral commission however said on Wednesday that it was confident in its processes.