By ELVIS ONDIEKI
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Slain electoral commission manager Chris Msando was mentioned at least four times in various press conferences on election week, and that could point at how his ghost will lurk over the 2017 polls.

National Super Alliance (Nasa) leader Raila Odinga and Nairobi Woman Representative-elect Esther Passaris were the first to allege a nexus between his death and the outcome of the election.

In separate press conferences on Wednesday, they claimed that his murder was a precursor to manipulation of election results.

A day later, observers Marietje Schaake (European Union) and John Kerry (Carter Centre) also made reference to Mr Msando’s death just 10 days before he and other staff at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) could roll out a revolutionary General Election management system.

Ms Schaake’s message was that everything surrounding his death has to be cleared, lest inferences are made in future.

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“In the week before these crucial elections, Kenyans were shocked by the torture and murder of Chris Msando and the young woman found dead alongside him. And I wish to repeat the call for an independent investigation into what happened and how his murder may have impacted the electoral process,” she said.

Mr Kerry’s reference to Mr Msando on Thursday was about the courage exhibited by IEBC staff who “had the most reason to feel immediately intimidated because of the murder” but resorted to conduct Tuesday’s polls regardless.

Mr Msando, who went missing on July 28 and was found dead on July 29, will be buried on Saturday at the home of his late father in Lifunga Kobiero village, Siaya County.

Political analyst Joshua Kiptoo thinks the timing of the death created room for speculation.

“The innuendos and perceptions that will grow out of it; the conspiracy theories, don’t help,” he told NTV. “By virtue of the fact that he was one of the key personnel in the ICT department of IEBC, it fuels conspiracy theories.”

Mr George Kegoro, the executive director of Kenya Human Rights Commission, opines that although Mr Msando was killed alongside young Carol Ngumbu, there are all indications that the murder was political.

“With a crime of such gravity on the country’s hands, official behaviour has only served to deepen the perception that Mr Msando was killed for political reasons,” he wrote in the Sunday Nation last week.

Mr Odinga’s mention of Mr Msando was due to the fact that his password may have been used to access the IEBC systems and tamper with vote transmission mechanisms.

“At about 12.37 pm on August 8, 2017, hackers gained entry into our election database through the identity of Chris Msando who was executed barely a week ago and into the account of Mr Chebukati, the chairperson,” he said.

Ms Passaris, speaking shortly afterwards, added: “I think nobody in Kenya now doubts why Chris Msando died. We understand why. It was because of that manipulation.”

But Mr Ezra Chiloba, IEBC’s chief executive officer, said no one could have benefitted from Mr Msando’s torture and death in terms of accessing the commission’s information.

“No password was given to anyone within the commission until on the eve of the election as part of assuring the integrity of the system,” he said at a briefing on Wednesday evening.

The Financial Times, a London-based publication, on Friday wrote that the aftershocks of Mr Msando’s death will be written all over the 2017 polls. “Ten days later, Mr Msando’s ghost is still hanging over the election,” it said on its website.

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