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Election Official in Kenya Found Dead

FILE - Christopher Msando, an information technology official for Kenya, speaks at a press conference in Nairobi, July 6, 2017. Msando, an official crucial to running Kenya's presidential election next week, has been found tortured and killed, the electoral commission chairman said Monday, July 31, 2017. (AP Photo)
Election Official in Kenya Found Dead
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Kenya's national police force says it is investigating the killing of a top election official.

Christopher Msando was found dead Monday, a little more than a week before the country holds general elections.

The inspector general of the National Police Service, Joseph Boinnet, said in a statement that Msando's body had been discovered earlier but was identified Monday.

Boinnet said police are following important clues to the crime. The two-page statement does not explain the cause of death.

Msando was manager of technology operations for Kenya's Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, or the IEBC. He is said to have had knowledge of the technology being used for the August 8 elections.

Wafula Chebukati is the chairman of the IEBC. He said Monday there is no doubt Msando was "tortured and killed." However, he said it is unclear why he was killed.

Chebukati asked the government to provide security for all IEBC workers so that Kenyans can have a free and fair election.

The statement from inspector general Boinnet said police will work with the IEBC to provide all employees security so they can carry out their duties.

In a statement Monday, U.S. Ambassador to Kenya Robert Godec and British High Commissioner to Kenya Nic Hailey said their countries are "gravely concerned by the murder." They said both countries have offered to help with the investigation.

The diplomats said, "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."

Fears of violence have increased as the election nears. Opposition parties have accused President Uhuru Kenyatta of seeking to cheat during the vote. At the same time, Kenyatta has said his main opponent, former Prime Minister Raila Odinga, is trying to divide the nation’s ethnic groups.

Odinga lost a disputed presidential election in 2007. More than 1,100 people died during violence that followed the vote.

Barasa Nyukuri is a Kenyan law and elections expert. He told VOA's Swahili Service that the killing may be an attempt to frighten the IEBC.

He also warned that Msando's death "could damage voters' confidence on the commission unless the IEBC leadership comes out strongly to reassure the people."

I’m Jonathan Evans.

Jill Craig reported this story for VOA News. Mario Ritter adapted it for VOA Learning English. Ashley Thompson was the editor.

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Words in This Story

gravely - adv. very serious; requiring or causing serious thought or concern

critical –adj. very important

essential –adj. very important

achieve –v. to get or to reach by effort

confidence –n. a feeling that something can be done

reassure - v. to make someone feel less afraid, upset, or doubtful