Kenya’s candidates battling misinformation online

Kenya’s presidential candidates have been campaigning ahead of elections next month, and there have been misleading allegations made about their qualification to stand.

We’ve been fact-checking these claims and others ahead of the vote.

Kenya’s electoral laws required candidates for the presidency to have been awarded a degree from a recognised university in Kenya.

The two leading candidates, Raila Odinga and William Ruto, have both had their studies called into question.

First to Mr Odinga, who has had his degree from a German university challenged by opponents.

They have been sharing a social media post claiming to be from University Magdeburg suggesting that Mr Odinga’s degree certificate wasn’t awarded by the institution.

But the post itself was fake, and the certificate was indeed genuine.

The fake post did not appear on the university’s Facebook or other social media accounts. None of the genuine accounts had a blue tick associated with them, whereas the fake one did.

There’s a further twist to this story. Other posts have been shared claiming that the signature on the certificate was of a university professor who would have been too young at the time Mr Odinga attended the institution.

They pointed to a Prof. Montag who would have been about five years old at the time Mr Odinga was awarded his certificate in 1969.

However, the university has confirmed to the BBC the existence of another Prof. Montag who had been head of the engineering department at the time Mr Odinga was there.

In addition, a search through a database of German academics revealed that a Prof. Gerhard Montag was indeed appointed as a professor in technology and mechanical engineering at the Technical University in Magdeburg in 1966.

It also appeared that the Wikipedia entry for University Magdeburg was tampered with to give the false impression that Mr Odinga never studied there. It has since been rectified to clarify that he was a student at the institution.

Mr Odinga’s main rival in the presidential race, the current Deputy President, Mr Ruto, has also had his university qualification questioned.

This time, the claim was not that he did not get a degree, but that his performance while attending University of Nairobi was of a lower standard than publicly stated. -BBC

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