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Kenya Awaits Presidential Election Results

Raila Odinga (l) Uhuru Kenyatta (r) Kenyans are awaiting results in their country’s presidential election, after millions cast their votes on Monday.

With 25% of polling stations reporting, Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta held an early lead over his main rival, Prime Minister Raila Odinga.

The head of the electoral commission emphasised these were provisional figures and urged Kenyans to wait patiently for the final outcome.

In 2007, more than 1,000 people were killed in post-election violence.

Clashes broke out then after Mr Odinga claimed he had been cheated of victory by supporters of President Mwai Kibaki.

Violence has also marred the current election, with at least 19 people killed,
Long queues

By early Tuesday, Mr Kenyatta of the Jubilee alliance had established a lead over Mr Odinga, who heads the Coalition for Reform and Democracy (CORD).

With 25.03% of polling stations reporting, the 51-year-old deputy prime minister had 1.53m votes, or 55.09%, while the 68-year-old prime minister had 1.12m, or 40.33%, local media reported.

Analysts cautioned that early counting favoured Kenyatta strongholds.

The next nearest challenger was Musailia Mudavadi, of the Peace coalition, who trailed far behind with 80,970 votes, or 2.9%.

None of the other five candidates for the presidency had more than 1%.

Final results are expected to be announced later on Tuesday.

Mr Kenyatta is due to stand trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC) in August for his alleged role in the 2007 unrest, when supporters of the rival candidates, from different ethnic groups, took up arms against each other.

Mr Odinga later joined a government of national unity under a peace deal.

The US and other Western allies of Kenya have warned of possible “consequences” if Mr Kenyatta wins.

However, Mr Kenyatta’s running mate, William Ruto, who also faces charges of crimes against humanity, insisted on Monday that they would be able to discharge their duties if elected and would co-operate with the ICC to clear their names. Both deny any wrongdoing.

Long queues were reported outside polling stations across the country on Monday as Kenyans chose a president, as well as members of parliament and senators, county governors, women members of 47 county assemblies, and civic leaders.

The head of the Independent Boundaries and Electoral Commission (IEBC) said turnout among the 14.3 million voters was more than 70% – marginally higher than in 2007 – but did not give a precise total because many polling stations stayed open late into the night.

The IEBC said some delays were caused by difficulties with newly instituted biometric voting kits intended to reduce fraud.

Some observers are concerned about ethnic and political violence erupting should neither of the two front-runners poll more than 50% – in which case the vote will go to a run-off, probably on 11 April.
Machete attack

After the polls closed, Mr Ruto said he believed the elections had been “free, fair and credible”.

However, Mr Odinga’s party warned that there had been irregularities which placed “in jeopardy the credibility of this process”.

Frank Bett, a senior CORD official, said there had been reports of late voting at one polling station hours after polls closed officially, people casting more than one ballot, and failures of the biometric kits in some places.

The IEBC earlier acknowledged that a polling clerk had issued extra ballots, and paper voter lists had been used when the electronic registration system failed.

Among the 19 people killed were four policemen who were attacked with machetes in the coastal city of Mombasa by suspected members of the separatist Mombasa Republican Council (MRC), which had demanded the elections be scrapped.

The group’s spokesman denied it was responsible, but police Inspector General David Kimaiyo said they were planning a raid that would “see the end of the MRC”.

Police also blamed the MRC, which believes Kenya’s coast should be an independent country, for three deadly attacks in the nearby town of Kilifi.

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Gunfire and explosions were also reported in the town of Garissa, near the border with Somalia. Gunmen stormed two polling stations after voting ended, but were forced to retreat by security forces, the deputy speaker of parliament told Associated Press.

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