Kenyatta still leading

Stored ballot boxes in Kenya.
Stored ballot boxes in Kenya.

NAIROBI — Kenyan authorities were racing to gather final election results today after a partial count gave the lead to a politician wanted in The Hague over violence following the previous vote.

Counting since Monday’s voting has been slow and complicated by hitches in a new electronic system. Politicians have complained about flaws in the process, stirring fears of a repeat of the troubles after the election five years ago.

Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, 51, has kept an early lead since poll results started trickling in but some strongholds for his rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga, 68, have yet to declare their results.

The last election saw some 1,200 people killed in ethnic violence after outgoing president Mwai Kibaki was declared the victor over Odinga amid charges of voting fraud.

Kenyans are waiting to see if politicians will respect the vote results this time. At least 15 people were killed in pockets of violence as voting took place on Monday but so far there has been no repeat of large scale unrest.

A dispute over a sizable number of rejected ballots could rein in Kenyatta’s early lead and raise the chances of an April runoff, prolonging the uncertainty.

“We are afraid because we don’t know what’s going to happen next,” said Charles Kabibi, 27, a gardener in the port city of Mombasa, whose concerns have risen with the wait. “It makes us nervous and it’s just adding to the tension.”

The election commission has said it aims to start tallying final results from returning officers today after the electronic system to transmit provisional figures failed. But it has seven days from the vote to declare the official outcome.

Alojz Peterle, chief observer of the European Union mission, said the process had been credible and transparent so far.

Kenyatta and his running mate, William Ruto, are both wanted in The Hague on charges of unleashing death squads after the last vote in 2007. Both men deny the charges.

The United States and other Western states, big donors that view Kenya as vital in the regional battle with militant Islam, have already indicated that a victory by Kenyatta would complicate diplomatic relations. (Reuters)

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