Kenyans await outcome of tight presidential vote
By Yara Bayoumy and Duncan Miriri, ReutersNAIROBI--Kenyan authorities were racing to gather final election results on Wednesday after a partial count gave the lead to a politician who faces charges in The Hague for ethnic killings following the 2007 vote.
March 7, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
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.
About 1,200 people were killed in weeks of tribal violence after the 2007 election, when 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 the large-scale unrest.
But two days after the vote, the uncertainty was unsettling nerves.
“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. “It makes us nervous, and it's just adding to the tension.”
A dispute over a sizable number of rejected ballots could rein in Kenyatta's early lead and raise the chances of an April run-off.
The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission was manually tallying results from returning officers after the electronic system to transmit provisional figures failed. It has seven days from the vote to declare the official outcome.
Despite technical glitches, European Union chief observer Alojz Peterle said the vote was credible and transparent so far.
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.