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Kenyans in suspense over poll outcome

In the Kenyan elections, computer glitches, spoiled ballots and delayed results are testing the patience of millions of voters. One official says the final figures could be announced on Friday.

Worries were mounting in Kenya as ballot-counting from this week's general and presidential elections dragged on due to technical glitches in an expensive, high-tech computerized system.

Provisional results show Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta, who is to face trial at the International Criminal Court (ICC), to be leading in the presidential race. However, he may not be able to pull off a first-round victory.

Under Kenyan law, the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) has until Monday to release the final result.

Elijah Ole Leshao, one of the Commission's supervisors at Nyayo Tallying Center, Nairobi told DW correspondent James Shimanyula "the delay was caused by the counting."

Überschrift: Vote counting in Kenyan elections (PIC 3.JPG) Schlagworte: Kenyan elections 2013, Wer hat das Bild gemacht: James Shimanyula Wann und wo wurde es aufgenommen: Nairobi, Kenya, 06.03.2013 Was ist darauf zu sehen :One of thousands of Electoral Commission of Kenya Officials, South of Nairobi, Kenya. James Shimanulya ist DW Korrespondent.

Elijah Ole Leshao is one of the officials seeking to reassure voters

IEBC chairman Ahmed Isaack Hassan said results could be announced by the end of the week. "Early in the morning on Friday we should be able to arrive at a conclusion," he said.

Voters said they were getting increasingly nervous about the delay in tallying the data, with the shadow of post-election violence in 2007 hanging over the country.

"The mood is tense, as in people are losing their patience. They want to know the result as soon as possible. Since yesterday, no vehicles are on the road, businesses have closed," Josh Ogure, an electrician in Nairobi's Kibera slum, told the German dpa news agency. Like others, Ogure said he was worried the delay could allow politicians to "rig" the vote.

Technical failures

Instead of relying upon electronic transmission of data, electoral officials were physically bringing ballots from around the country to be counted at the Nyayo Tallying Center.

Provisional results, with more than 40 per cent of votes counted, show Kenyatta with about 53 per cent of the vote, while his rival, Premier Raila Odinga, had about 42 per cent.

The Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC) apologized for the problems in the electronic system, which cost tens of millions of dollars.

With this system the electoral commission had been broadcasting running tallies based on encrypted text messages received from polling stations.

To avoid a run-off, a candidate must garner at least 50 percent of the votes.

The IEBC said hundreds of thousands of spoiled ballots will be counted, which could make it harder for Kenyatta to reach that 50 percent mark and avoid a second round run-off. Spoiled ballots make up more than five percent of votes cast.

Überschrift: Vote counting in Kenyan elections (PIC 2.JPG) Schlagworte: Kenyan elections 2013, Wer hat das Bild gemacht: James Shimanyula Wann und wo wurde es aufgenommen: Nairobi, Kenya, 06.03.2013 Was ist darauf zu sehen : Top officials of Kenya's Jubilee Coalition, led by Uhuru Kenyatta addressing a Press Confrere in Nairobi. from Left Charity Ngilu, Amina Abdallah, and Mutava Musyimi. James Shimanulya ist DW Korrespondent.

Charity Ngilu (left) criticized the decision to count spoiled ballots

Charity Ngilu a senior member of Jubilee Coalition, Kenyatta's party, described the IEBC's move as "sinister and suspect."

Allegations of British interference denied

Other officials close to Kenyatta accused foreign diplomats of attempting to interfere with the vote tallying.

They slammed the "shadowy, suspicious and rather animated involvement of the British High Commissioner to Kenya, Dr Christian Turner."

Jubilee accused the British of pushing the Electoral Commission to include invalidated votes in the counting. Turner has denied the charges.

Britain's Foreign Office also said claims of British interference were "entirely false and misleading."

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.

Despite the technical glitches, European Union chief observer Alojz Peterle said the vote was credible and transparent so far.

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