Video makes false claims about Kenyan election based on debunked content

Copyright AFP 2017-2022. All rights reserved.

A video published on TikTok features an image of a purported newspaper front page with a headline claiming Kenya’s electoral commission officials were found guilty by Interpol of receiving bribes. The clip also includes screenshots of posts from a Facebook account in the name of Juliana Cherera, the commission’s vice chairperson, that purportedly reveal fraud at the agency. But the video is false: AFP Fact Check previously debunked the newspaper front page while the Facebook account is a hoax page with no association to Cherera.

The video was published on TikTok on August 17, 2022, and has since been shared more than 1,200 times.

“We want justice, we want democracy for baba (sic),” reads the caption on the video, which has more than 280,000 views.

Screenshot showing the false post, taken on September 15, 2022

“Baba” is among several political nicknames for Odinga. In Swahili, it means “father”.

Apart from showing an image of a newspaper front page and screenshots of Facebook posts purported to be from Cherera, the video includes background music in Odinga’s native Luo language. The song urges him to “continue fighting for the presidency and his people… even if it means stealing votes”.

The screenshots of posts from the Facebook account in Cherera’s name make several claims: that a professional hitman hired to assassinate her had been killed for failing the mission; that Independent and Electoral Boundaries Commission (IEBC) chairman Wafula Chebukati manipulated presidential election results in favour of one of the candidates; and that Cherera refused a bribe.

Dissenting commissioners

Cherera was one of four IEBC commissioners who disowned the result of the election held on August 9, 2022, which saw President William Ruto beat Odinga by a margin of less than two percentage points.

Percentage of votes garnered by William Ruto and Raila Odinga

Odinga alleged fraud and challenged the results in court, but the country’s Supreme Court unanimously upheld Ruto’s victory.

After the ruling, the dissenting commissioners said that they respected the court’s verdict.

Ruto was sworn in on September 13, 2022, and now serves as Kenya’s fifth president.

But AFP Fact Check found that the newspaper front page was a fabrication and the screenshots were from an impostor account spreading propaganda.

Fabricated front page

A previous debunk by AFP Fact Check found that the newspaper front page featured in the video was digitally fabricated.

A front page from The Star, one of Kenya’s top daily newspapers, was altered to replace a headline with false text. The original headline read “Why IECB chiefs are under siege”, not “Interpol: IECB chair was bribed $ 3M”.

Interpol also denied the claim that it was involved in a bribery investigation linked to Kenya’s electoral commissioners.

Impostor Facebook account

By searching on Facebook, AFP Fact Check found the posts shared in the TikTok video come from a Facebook account created on August 16, 2022, in the name of Juliana Cherera. However, the account does not belong to her.

The account, which also uses Cherera’s photo, spreads anti-Ruto and anti-IEBC messages. Its description reads “Just for fun”, suggesting it is meant as parody.

Cherera has publicly stated that she is not on social media. She confirmed the same to AFP Fact Check. “I am not on Facebook, Twitter or any other social platforms and I did not say any of the things written in those pages.”

Links shared in some of the Facebook posts lead to a phishing site that mimics hivipunde.online, a digital news website in Kenya.

AFP Fact Check clicked on a link and received a security notification.

“Attackers might be trying to steal your information ... (for example, passwords, messages, or credit cards),” read the warning.

Erin Flanagan contributed to this article. 
Kenya elections 2022