- The Washington Times - Tuesday, August 1, 2017

Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta on Tuesday urged voters to refrain from hasty judgments as the nation was still reeling from the murder of Christopher Msando, a key member of Kenya’s election commission whose body was found Monday morning.

“It is appropriate … to let [Kenya‘s] institutions handle the investigation, the better to bring the doers of this foul deed to justice,” Mr. Kenyatta wrote on Twitter Tuesday. “Careless speculation in this time of grief only makes the work of investigators harder, and it only adds to the pain of those who loved him.”

Mr. Msando’s death occurred barely a week before Kenya’s Aug. 8 presidential election, which looks to be a close race between Mr. Kenyatta and National Super Alliance leader Raila Odinga. An audit of new voter-ID technology, which had been scheduled for Monday, has been postponed because of Mr. Msando’s death, election officials said.

Given Mr. Msando’s key role in ensuring the integrity of the vote, many fear that his death will heighten tension and provoke violence as citizens question the election’s credibility.

Mr. Odinga’s supporters claimed the murder was a direct effort to undermine the election results: “That no effort was made to camouflage this killing as an accident shows the determination of the killers to send a chilling message that they will stop at nothing to ensure the outcome they desire,” the opposition party said in a statement.

Fears of election-related violence are already high in Kenya: In 2007, more than a thousand people were killed in post-election violence, and though 2013 elections were less violent, some of the safeguards in place at the time no longer exist. Supporters of Mr. Odinga, who lost to Mr. Kenyatta in 2013, blamed his loss in part on a failure of the electronic voting system.

Murithi Mutiga, a senior analyst for the International Crisis Group, told The Associated Press that both sides have high stakes in this election and desperately want to win.

Mr. Kenyatta urged Kenyans toward unity as the election approaches.

“[W]e must remain united,” he tweeted. “This is not the time to allow a tragedy such as this to divide us, to turn brother against brother.”

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