NAIROBI — A senior election official in Kenya was found dead Monday, intensifying anxiety over whether the country can hold a fair and peaceful vote next week in a tightly contested presidential election.
Christopher Chege Musando, a senior manager in information technology at the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission, which is responsible for counting votes and declaring the results of the Aug. 8 election, had been missing for three days, commission officials said.
“There is no doubt that he was tortured and murdered,” Wafula A. Chebukati, the board’s chairman, told journalists outside a mortuary in Nairobi, where Mr. Musando’s body had been transported.
“The only issue is: Who killed him and why,” Mr. Chebukati said. “I demand from the government that they provide security for all members of the I.E.B.C. for them to give Kenya free and fair elections.”
The incidents stirred memories of violence a decade ago, when the fiercely contested 2007 elections provoked clashes between ethnic groups. At least 1,200 people died and more than 600,000 were displaced. The 2013 elections were more peaceful, but hundreds of people died in clashes and voting machines experienced widespread malfunctions.
Kenyans will vote next week in six contests including a tight presidential election pitting President Uhuru Kenyatta, the incumbent and leader of the Jubilee coalition, against Raila Odinga, who leads the National Super Alliance, an umbrella opposition group. Neither candidate commands more than 50 percent in recent polls.
As Election Day nears, Mr. Odinga, who is running for a fourth time and says he was robbed of victory in the last two contests, is warning his supporters that this year could be the same. Mr. Odinga released a document last week that he said showed that the armed forces were preparing a coup if he and his party won. Mr. Kenyatta’s party has refuted those claims.
Justin Willis, a professor of history and an expert on Kenyan politics at Durham University in England, said the killing of Mr. Musando would “undoubtedly raise tensions,” which are already running high.
“It will make people more suspicious,” he said. “And, given that the anxiety over the election focuses on technology and its misuse, this gruesome event will greatly increase anxiety.”