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Video claiming Kenya’s former electoral commission chair will ‘open’ 2022 election servers is false

IN SHORT: A video claims that Wafula Chebukati has vowed to open the servers of the 2022 election to show that opposition leader Raila Odinga was the real winner. But there’s no evidence to support this claim.

A video circulating on TikTok in May 2023 shows a graphic that reads: “‘Nitafungua Server!’ Chebukati now says Raila won with a big margin and Ruto should open servers.” 

Loosely translated from Kiswahili, “Nitafungua server” means “I will open the servers”. It refers to the opposition's demand that the election servers hosted by Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) be audited.

The IEBC is responsible for conducting elections in the country.

“Chebukati” refers to Wafula Chebukati, the former chairperson of the IEBC. “Raila” refers to Raila Odinga, the Kenyan opposition leader, and “Ruto” refers to William Ruto, the country’s president.

Odinga came second in the August 2022 general elections, and subsequently challenged the results in court. Since losing the case, Odinga has regularly staged protests challenging the legitimacy of Ruto and his government. 

The video circulating on Tiktok further promotes the narrative of a rigged election. However, Kenya's supreme court rejected claims of vote rigging. It also granted the opposition access to the live election servers, and the resulting investigation found no evidence of tampering.

Despite this, the integrity of the election continues to be questioned on social media. Graphics quoting Chebukati saying he will open the servers have also been shared on Facebook here, here, here, here, here and here


Unsubstantiated claims

The graphic seen in the video makes several claims. It claims that Chebukati is in intensive care in India and that he said he would “open” the election servers. 

It also claims that Chebukati confessed that Odinga won by a large margin and that he was bribed by Ruto to overturn Odinga's victory. The graphic does not identify the person Chebukati allegedly told this information to, making it difficult to verify. 

There have been unverified claims that Chebukati has sought medical treatment abroad, but these lack credible sources. 

There have also been false claims of Chebukati's death, which have been debunked by Africa Check.

‘Demystify the server’

Chebukati is no longer the chairperson of the electoral commission as his term expired in January 2023. Therefore, he has no authority to open the servers.

If the claims were true, they would attract a lot of media attention, both nationally and internationally. But none of the claims made in this videohave been reported by any reliable source.

Furthermore, the supreme court has already ruled on the validity of the election after investigating claims of server manipulation and ballot stuffing. None of these claims were substantiated.

In May, Chebukati said he would give a talk demystifying “the server” in Kenyan elections, but there’s no evidence that he’s spoken publicly about the issue since.

Allegations of election theft can lead to political instability. It is important to check the reliability of the source of such information.

The claim that Chebukati confessed from intensive care in India to overturning Odinga's 2022 victory after receiving bribes from Ruto is false.

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