Frustrations have been mounting over the slow pace of vote counting in Kenya’s presidential election, with results expected on Friday. Earlier polls showed Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta in the lead.
Election officials urged calm after glitches led the electronic tallying system to malfunction Wednesday with votes from just over 40 percent of polling stations counted.
Deputy Prime Minister Uhuru Kenyatta has kept a slim lead since polls closed on Monday coming up ahead of rival Prime Minister Raila Odinga.
"We have admitted there were challenges with the electronic transmission of results," Ahmed Isaack Hassan, head of the Independent Electoral and Boundaries Commission (IEBC), told journalists.
Election officials have begun hand-delivering ballots to the capital Nairobi and are recounting votes. The process will likely take until early Friday, but could even extend until Monday. Under Kenyan law, the IEBC has until Monday to release the final result.
Kalonzo Musyoka, Kenya’s vice-president and Odinga's running mate, said the party was worried at the "failure of the IEBC electronic registers as well as the huge numbers of spoilt votes."
With the gap between Kenyatta and Odinga small enough to be overturned, the inclusion of the large number of spoiled ballots could be a game-changer. A candidate needs to break the 50 percent threshold for a first round win, or they face another round within a month.
With the shadow of post-election violence in 2007 hanging over the country, Kenyans are eager to learn the results.
Following 2007’s presidential election, about 1,200 people were killed in ethnic violence when the current outgoing president, Mwai Kibaki, was declared victor over Odinga amid fraud allegations. Both Kenyatta and Odinga have publicly vowed that there would be no bloodshed this time around.
Kenyatta - the son of Kenya's founding president, Jomo Kenyatta - is still to face charges at the International Criminal Court in The Hague, where prosecutors accuse him and his running mate William Ruto of orchestrating the 2007 post-election violence.
A second chance for peace
Despite a call for peace during Monday's vote, at least a dozen people were killed in a pair of secessionist attacks on police in the Mombasa area, but there has so far been no repeat of the widespread violence seen in 2007.
Officials estimated the turnout for Monday's election at 70 percent of the country's 14 million registered voters. If no candidate wins at least 50 percent of the presidential vote, the two top finishers will face each other in a runoff election, to be held on April 11.
hc/rc (Reuters, AFP, AP, dpa)