Kenya election official found dead just days before vote

JOHN CHESOLI

JOHN CHESOLI

"There's no doubt that he was tortured and murdered", Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati said Monday. His mutilated body and that of an unidentified woman was found later on Monday.

Mr. Msando, who was in his 30s, had appeared on television only hours before he was killed, talking about how the IEBC was prepared for the election and was determined to make it a free and fair poll.

"The matter has been reported to the police and the commission together with family members is working closely with the police to establish his whereabouts", the IEBC said. "We are demanding government provide security to all IEBC (electoral commission) staff".

"Msando's killing comes as the electoral management body was due to audit its systems, a week away from the election day", Namwaya said.

The IEBC on Tuesday said it had taken delivery of all ballot papers in respect of the presidential race.

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Mr. Campbell noted that, as the largest nation in East Africa, Kenya's political stability has a direct impact on surrounding countries' elections as well.

A police officer, who spoke to Anadolu Agency at the Nairobi mortuary on condition of anonymity, confirmed that his body was found on Sunday.

A nationwide poll released Tuesday by Infotrak said support for main opposition leader Raila Odinga, whose popularity has been growing in recent weeks, was at 49 percent while Kenyatta was at 48 percent.

After the December 2007 election, when he lost to Mwai Kibaki and claimed there had been widespread vote-rigging, there was widespread violence between the Luo and the Kikuyu tribe, which led to the deaths of more than 1,000 people.

The United States and the United Kingdom have offered assistance in the murder investigation.

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Kenyatta has repeatedly denied accusations leveled by the opposition that he wants to use force to rig the elections.

Previous Kenyan elections were plagued by scandals over compromised voting machines.

Mr. Msando's murder is "a pretty shocking development, even by Kenyan standards", said Mark Bellamy, former USA ambassador to Kenya and senior adviser of the Africa Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Both sides have much at stake in this election, said Murithi Mutiga, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group.

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