October 3, 2017 / 6:39 PM / 10 months ago

Kenya's top prosecutor orders investigation of Safaricom staff over election

NAIROBI, Oct 3 (Reuters) - Kenya’s top prosecutor ordered a criminal investigation on Tuesday of six employees of telecoms operator Safaricom for allegedly conspiring with election board officials to rig the nullified Aug. 8 presidential poll.

The Supreme Court annulled President Uhuru Kenyatta’s re-election on Sept. 1, citing irregularities and illegalities in the transmission of results, and ordered another election within 60 days.

Kenya used two systems to transmit results from polling stations: paper forms and the electronic transmission of the vote tallies plus scanned copies of the forms, using three local telecoms firms and hardware from French IT firm OT-Morpho.

Opposition leader Raila Odinga asked his lawyers last week to prosecute the Safaricom staff, accusing the company of failing to alert the authorities about illegal activities during the electronic transmission of results.

He said they had been sent to a server in Europe rather than the election centre in the Kenyan capital.

A letter from public prosecutions director Keriako Tobiko, seen by Reuters, ordered the criminal investigations director to complete his investigation into the Safaricom employees and a senior member of the ruling Jubilee Party within 21 days.

Tobiko said he had assigned a senior team of prosecutors to assist the investigation.

Safaricom has denied all the accusations and said last week it was ready for any investigation or private prosecution by any party.

Safaricom is East Africa’s biggest company by market value. It is a subsidiary of South Africa’s Vodacom , which is in turn a subsidiary of Britain’s Vodafone .

Kenya’s telecoms regulator, the Communications Authority, said no cases of transmission failure had been reported by the three telecoms operators contracted by the election board. (Reporting by Humphrey Malalo; Writing by Maggie Fick; Editing by Andrew Roche)

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