Kenya’s national police force says it is investigating the killing of a top electoral official, Christopher Msando, who was found dead Monday, a little more than a week before the country holds general elections.
In a statement, the inspector general of the National Police Service, Joseph Boinnet, says Msando’s body was brought to a mortuary on the outskirts of Nairobi on Saturday, but not identified until Monday.
Boinnet says police view the killing of Msando as “a crime of grave proportions,” and says investigators are following crucial leads that “could lead to the eventual arrest and prosecution of the murderers.” The two-page statement does not specify the cause of death.
Msando was manager of technology operations for Kenya’s Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, the IEBC, and had in-depth knowledge of the technology being used in the August 8 elections.
Commission Chairman Wafula Chebukati said Monday there is no doubt Msando was “tortured and killed,” adding that, in the commission’s mind, “the only issue is who killed him and why.”
Chebukati asked the government to provide security for all IEBC employees so Kenyans can have a free and fair election.
The statement from Boinnet says “police will work with the IEBC with a view to ensuring that all Commission employees are accorded the requisite security to enable them to discharge their mandate.”
In a statement Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec and his British counterpart Nic Hailey said their countries are “gravely concerned by the murder” and have offered to help with the investigation.
“It is critical that Kenya has free, fair, credible and peaceful elections on August 8, and protection for IEBC staff is essential to achieving this goal,” the diplomats said.
Fears of violence have been rising as election day draws near. Opposition parties have accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of seeking to rig the vote, while the president said his main opponent, former prime minister Raila Odinga, is trying to divide the nation along ethnic lines.
Odinga lost the hotly-disputed 2007 presidential election, that triggered violence that killed more than 1,100 people.
A Kenyan law and elections expert, Barasa Nyukuri, told VOA’s Swahili Service the killing of Msando may be an attempt to scare the IEBC.
He also warned Msando’s death “could damage voters’ confidence on the commission unless the IEBC leadership comes out strongly to reassure the people.”
VOA’s Swahili Service contributed to this report.