Tense wait for Kenya election rivals

Kenya’s presidential rivals are still waiting for the results of Monday’s election, as a vote count beset by glitches enters a fourth day. With 75% of constituencies declared, Uhuru Kenyatta has a clear lead, his tally hovering around the 50% mark.

If he fails to secure more than 50%, he will face a run-off vote against his rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

Mr Kenyatta is due to face trial in The Hague in July for crimes against humanity.

He is accused of fuelling communal violence after the 2007 election that saw more than 1,000 people killed and 600,000 forced from their homes. He denies the accusations.

Trials at the International Criminal Court (ICC) typically last for years, and it is unclear how Mr Kenyatta would be able to govern Kenya, if elected.

Countries including the US and UK have hinted that his election as president would have consequences for their relations with the Nairobi government – comments which have been dismissed in Nairobi as unwanted foreign interference in domestic matters.

Computer glitches

This year’s election has so far been largely peaceful.

But the count has been plagued by a series of technical glitches.

One of these was a programming error, which led to the number of rejected votes being multiplied by a factor of eight.

This meant more than 330,000 votes – 6% – were initially rejected – enough to change the course of the election.

The electronic system was abandoned, and the process of tallying results from the 32,000 polling stations around the country was restarted by hand on Wednesday.

The number of rejected votes is now about 1% of total votes cast.

The BBC’s Gabriel Gatehouse in Nairobi says this high-profile flop is an embarrassment for Kenya’s electoral authority, the IEBC, as well as a stain on the reputation of a country positioning itself as an African tech-hub.

The hi-tech system was introduced with one main purpose – to eliminate the possibility of vote-rigging, and give the Kenyan electorate faith in the credibility of the count but our correspondent says its failure could end up having the opposite effect.

An umbrella group of civil society activists has launched a court case, to be heard later on Friday, in an attempt to stop the vote count.

They say election officials have not explained the nature of the computer glitch.

By Friday morning, 226 of 291 constituencies had declared.

Mr Kenyatta, the son of Kenya’s first President Jomo Kenyatta, had 50.2% of the vote. Mr Odinga was trailing with 43.5%.

Both men have passed the second condition needed for victory – at least 25% of the vote in more than half of the 47 counties.

The supporters of both men have criticised the vote tallying.

Mr Kenyatta’s camp also accused the British of meddling in the election, an allegation denied by London.

Kenyans are said to be waiting impatiently for the result, crowding around TV sets to watch coverage of the election.

Turnout was estimated at more than 70% of 14.3 million voters.

Source: BBC

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