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Rows over contractors and pollsters sound alarms ahead of August vote

Odinga camp accuses ballot-printers of secret ties with his opponents as Ruto complains about fake opinion polls

Allegations of improper relations between the firm printing the ballot papers for the general elections and Ford-Kenya leader Moses Wetangula, a prominent ally of Deputy President William Ruto, could derail preparations for the vote in three weeks' time.

Opposition leader turned establishment candidate Raila Odinga and his alliance Azimio La Umoja have alleged the Greek company Inform Lykos (Hellas) SA Holding, which won the contract to provide ballot papers for the elections, is printing too many of them.

Odinga alleges collusion between the company and rogue officials in the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) with the aim of rigging the 9 August presidential vote in favour of Deputy President William Ruto by stuffing ballot boxes at targeted polling stations.

Odinga's aides leaked letters between Wetangula and the Greek embassy in Nairobi requesting a travel visa for an associate months before the ballot-printing contract was awarded and about private meetings between Wetangula and IEBC chairman Wafula Chebukati. Lykos, Wetangula and the IEBC officials all deny wrongdoing.

In 2017 Oginga made almost identical accusations against the company, Al Ghurair, printing the ballot papers in that election (AC Vol 58 No 15, The high cost of fighting fraud).

Chebukati is one of few IEBC officials still in place since the last elections after the election agency was attacked by a parliamentary committee for its handling of the polls (AC Vol 60 No 13, 'Rot' in the Commission).

Most of the candidates, especially Ruto, have accused their rivals of planning to steal the elections. They have also stoked tension by stating that they will refuse to accept poll results they believe are not free and fair. Accusations of vote-rigging were made at each of the last three presidential elections. In 2017, Christopher Msando, the IEBC's Information and Communications director, was found tortured and murdered just weeks before polling day (AC Vol 58 No 17, Hacks against facts and Vol 58 No 16, Murder most foul).

Opinion polls continue to suggest that Odinga has a slight edge over his rival. The latest Tifa opinion poll, published on Monday, gives Odinga a lead of 42% to 39%, compared with a 39% to 35% lead a month ago. Another local polling company, InfoTrak, puts Odinga at 43% to Ruto's 37%.

The hardening of Odinga's poll lead appears to be the result of his running mate, Martha Karua's strong performance on the campaign trail. The figures have prompted Ruto to condemn the findings of the opinion poll companies as 'fake' and 'sponsored' by his opponents.

The survey also found that 60% of Kenyans believe that the polls will be fair, although these numbers drop among Odinga's supporters.

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